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A friend of mine who is a professor keeps marveling at why I get so upset over Walt Disney perpetuating white supremacy. “Its Disney, of course it is going to be racist. What do you expect?”
I expect more. Especially from a company that claims to, “work toward an inclusive environment that fosters creativity, innovation and camaraderie across all of our companies.”
These are the pictures Disney has on their page regarding diversity:
All people of color pictured in their commitment to diversity.
Here is the entire Principal cast of Into The Woods…
SMDH… A critic asked me on Twitter who I would cast. To me this suggests a line of thinking that posits there obviously weren’t any artists of color who were up to snuff for the gig. This is clearly offensive and plain ridiculous. Phylicia Rashad and Vanessa Williams played The Witch, (Meryl Streep in this movie adaptation) on Broadway. Then of course I can rattle off many artists of color who are television and Broadway stars who fit the bill:
Audra McDonald, Taye Diggs, Anika Noni Rose, Dana Owens, Jennifer Hudson, Patina Miller, James Monroe Iglehart, Jesse L Martin, Brenda Braxton, Valerie Pettiford, Obba Babatunde- you get my drift.
The images we see as children form foundations. They plant seeds. Visibility for artists of color is important. If we aren’t there, kids learn to think we shouldn’t be there. We shouldn’t exist in their space because they never saw us. This hurts white and black children. The corrosive power of white supremacy spreads like wildfire at a young age, and it starts with Disney musicals where worlds are created that we don’t exist in, and leads to self hatred. When black kids don’t see themselves as protagonists in media they develop a bias toward whiteness.
White Bias in Black Kids
Is it any wonder Disney raised a woman of color like Raven Symone, who runs from her blackness and sexuality in order to conform and melt into being, “American?”
Shame on you Disney, shame. I wish Disney cared, but with Frozen (another all white adventure, complete with Gospel singing creatures) making more money than God, and Into the Woods likely to be a hit- Disney will have made enough money to justify their non diversity and non inclusion tactics.
I love the music of Sondheim. I know every lyric to Into the Woods. However I refuse to financially support whitesupremacy via ticket sales. Actors of color deserve a seat at the table. Casting an all white ensemble for Into the Woods in 2014 is a definite choice. It is out of touch and a sad commentary on race relations, theatre, film today and its future.