'The Little Mermaid' acts as a rare reflection for young Black girls

"The Little Mermaid" is more than just a Disney character for many Black girls.
Posted at 6:00 PM, May 29, 2023

Mermaid dolls, check. Matching shirts, check.

On Friday, four Kansas City girls — Aminah and Syiah Muhammad, and Parker and Sidney Strother — had it all, and were ready to see the newest movie making waves, the live-action "Little Mermaid."

There isn't much else that can leave them speechless.

"She actually has red hair," Syiah said.

The four girls were mesmerized as they prepared to watch the movie.

"The new Ariel," Aminah said.

Seeing someone who looks like them on the big screen and in such a big acting role made them proud.

She's a "Black Ariel," Syiah said.

Parker said, "I never watched Black Ariel, only the other Ariel."

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action remake of

'The Little Mermaid' makes box office splash with $95.5M opening

Disney estimates the film will reach $117.5 million in North America by the time Memorial Day weekend comes to a close.


"The Little Mermaid" is more than just a Disney character.

"She has locks; she's natural. It's a beautiful thing," said Sabirah Strother, Sidney and Parker's mom.

Their pride could be heard while they sang "Under the Sea." When these girls see a Black mermaid, they see themselves.

"Sometimes I feel like a mermaid when I’m swimming," Sidney said. "I go really deep down into the pool."

Ariel isn’t just for kids. It’s also a full-circle moment for Sabirah.

"It takes me back to my childhood," she said. "It’s one of my favorite movies."

Now, she wants it to be special for them too.

"I'm excited to experience it in a different way with my daughters and my nieces, and experience it with a Black Ariel," she said.

This story was originally published by Alyssa Jackson at Scripps News Kansas City.