About the Author

Kathryn H. Ross is the author of memoir Black Was Not A Label (2019, Pronto) and poetry chapbook Count It All Loss (2021, GoldScriptCo). She writes and edits in Southern California and loves cats and naps. Read her prose, essays, and poetry at speakthewritelanguage.com.

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. Love this article. This type of article is the reason I have written and published my first African American children’s book. 🥰🥰

  2. I enjoyed reading this article so much! The whole time I was reading it, I was wondering how my daughter felt growing up with the Disney Princesses. I’m looking forward to asking her, Did she identify with any of them being a black girl. She is in her late twenties now, and I am eager to know her feelings about this topic.

  3. I absolutely agree with your summation. When I was in Graduate School at a very large Texas University my 6/y/o daughter was one of a very few Black children in our neighborhood and her school. I was so conscious of how this might make her feel that I wrote a book for her where she could see little girls like herself solving problems. She loved it. I also bought her dolls of all colors and hair types, and found more books about children of various races. I wish these were available when I was a child, that would have helped my self esteem!

  4. I love this article. It took me back to a time when as Black people we were not wanted by Disneyland. Yes of course our children need to see sheroes and heroes. Even as adults we need to see and hear people who look like us, No it is not “woke” to want your child to believe in someone who represents them. Does color matter in America? Of course it does. America is not color blind. It probably never will be color blind. We are not going to go through this magic eraser where we all come out looking and sounding the same.

  5. I felt the same way you did. I loved all the Disney Princesses, but where was mine? I often thought, when will I get my turn to see a princess that looks like me? I was grown when Tiana was introduced to the world, and as a Disney fan, I could be any happier.

    To me, since Ariel is a Mermaid, Mermaids can be any color that Disney chooses. They are mythical beings. Being woke does not apply in this case, and I am ashamed of people, especially white people saying that the Black Ariel is not their Ariel. People tend to apply terms where they do not belong. I answer questions on Quora, and I got quite a few questions about Halle’s performance and if I plan to boycott the movie. I have seen the trailers as well. There is no way I plan on doing that, and I told the questioners the reason.

    • Amen! The “not my Ariel” thing is really too much, but it speaks of a deeper issue. Glad you’re making the space to speak up tell people your thoughts! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. I feel representation is power. Power to change the next generation. Your story is relatable in so many ways for me. For my daughter (8), having a back princess is now the “norm”. Her reaction to Halle Bailey as Ariel was amazing, but short lived. With the introductions of black female characters during her short lifetime (ex. Doc McStuffins, Karma’s World, Proud Family reboot, etc) she has grown to become accustomed to the changes that I, as a child, would have thought to be ground breaking. However, she has a bold confidence in her creativity that I never had, and I can’t help but wonder if representation is the reason.

  7. You sound like you and I are from the same generation where there were no little girl heros to lookup to. My best victory is my BFF and I were in Toys R Us (Retail Stores are closed now) and we were looking at the “Barbie” versions – There was Malibu, Sports, Bride, Cowboy. There were even some Hispanic “White” versions, however there were no “African American Versions of Barbie creating the message that “We as girls did not deserve to be married or have other versions of ourselves. My BFF went on a letter writing and Petition Campaign. We got 10,000 signatures about the outrage of No African American Versions of Barbie, that within a month, there was Wedding, Sports, Bride and Cowboy in African American Skin Tones. The things we have to demand and fight for a better world for our children.

  8. I think it is something more. As validating as seeing my first African American Hallmark Santa Clause ornament, circa, 1992.

  9. I feel representation is important. Without it we constantly analyze ourselves from the perspective of what others might be thinking. We often cannot be comfortable feeling as if we are the only ones or the odd man out. I am often the only person who looks like me at the table. Someone asked a colleague what type of doctor was I. Her response was, oh she is just a doctor on paper. I thought aren’t we all? It is not in our genes. I am the only person in my local organization to have a doctorate degree. It is amazing the reaction to my educational choices.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the disrespect you receive towards your accomplishments. You deserve to be seen and represented! I hope you find yourself in more spaces with people who care.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *