The image: When Disney released The Princess and the Frog in 2009, it marked the first time a black princess had starred in one of the media giant's animated movies. But because the princess, Tiana, began the film as a maid, critics attacked Disney for reinforcing old stereotypes. Today, it looks like Disney has stepped in it again, plastering Tiana on a package of watermelon-flavored Dig N' Dips. (If you've forgotten, those are the "bland sugar sticks that you lick, then dunk in flavored sugar powder," says Briana Lopes at The Grio.) The stereotype that black people love watermelons "originated with efforts to justify slavery," says Lisa Wade at Sociological Images. "Black people were simple, slavery proponents argued, so a delicious watermelon was enough to make them happy." To make matters worse, vanilla-flavored Dig N' Dips feature the white princess Aurora of Sleeping Beauty. (See the full image below.)
The reaction: Oof, says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. The packaging "either winks at or is completely oblivious of the stereotype that black people love watermelon." But labeling it "racism" is a "bit extreme" and "hypersensitive," says Brande Victorian at MadameNoire. Indeed, "it's hard to believe that anyone would intentionally make this kind of insensitive mistake," says Thembi Ford at Clutch. Though at the very least, it "should have set off an alarm" somewhere at Disney. Judge for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- 4 things NASA can teach you about a good night's sleep
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- The fascinating political evolution of Paul Ryan
- 10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2014
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- Is the Christian music industry liberalizing on gay marriage?
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
Subscribe to the Week