Essay on Racism in Disney Films

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What images come to mind as one reflects upon his or her childhood? Playgrounds, blackboards, and soccer balls may be among the fondest of memories. Yet, for many, mermaids swim their thoughts, princesses get swept off their feet, and lions roar to their royal place in the animal kingdom. Disney films have captivated the American culture for years and have become a pivotal part of popular culture as well as a form of education. However, these films have devoured the youth of America and, in the process; have perpetuated an institutionally racist society based on harsh stereotypes. Minorities are often underrepresented, and even completely left out, of many Disney films such as Dumbo (1941), The Lion King (1994), Aladdin (1992), and…show more content…
According to Carl Hiaasen, “The secret weapon is trust. Disney is the most trusted brand name in the history of marketing. It hooks us when we’re little and never lets go; this unshakeable faith that Disney is the best at knowing what’s best.”(13) It is time that this myth be shattered. As far back as 1946, racial stereotyping of African Americans has been evident in Disney films. For instance, in the American classic Dumbo, the crows depict the typical southern African American with a slow pattern of speech. In Jungle Book (1967) the monkeys with African American voices are jiving in a crazy manner because they will never be real men and will always be animals. One of the most tragic examples of this racism can be seen in the movie Tarzan. In the original making of the movie, the white man comes to the rescue and tames all of the animals and natives. However, in the new Disney version of Tarzan (1999), the blacks that obviously inhabit Africa were completely eliminated and replaced by gorillas with African American voices. African American children whom view these films have no choice but to resort to relating to these often unintelligent, inferior animals because that is where they hear themselves. In Mickey Mouse Monopoly, children were asked if they could think of any black characters in Disney films, sadly they came up short of a single one. It

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