It's about our community and our spirituality!

The Circle of Life From a Black Perspective


My Mom left town a few days before the Thanksgiving Holiday. I dropped her off at the airport so she could go across the country to spend the holiday season with some distant relatives. Just before she left she asked me to prepare the Thanksgiving diner for her grandkids, my nieces and nephews in college and high school.

My Mom is seriously old school. Even though she is very aware of the condition of the black community and she has her own understanding to its roots and causes, my Mom wants to make sure everyone enjoys the holidays the way tradition says to. If my Mom had stayed in town she would’ve had the biggest spread imaginable for a nearly eighty year old black woman that lives simply and alone. So about nine in the morning on Thanksgiving Day my girlfriend and I are in my Mom’s house getting ready to put a turkey in the oven. We sat and ate dinner as a family about three that afternoon.

Like families do when they get together on Thanksgiving Day we talked as we ate. The conversation rambled across a variety of subjects. Somebody wanted to announce their shopping plans for the next day. One of my nieces mentioned the fact that all she wanted was to get more Disney paraphernalia. To prove her devotion to the Disney Corporation she demonstrates her Disney themed ring tones on her cell phone. Her sister and brother were there to testify on her behalf. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

Why do you love Disney so much? Quick, without thinking name a black Disney character. Name someone who is black who works for Disney? Name something Disney does for the black community? James Earl Jones and Robert Guillaume from the Lion King come quickly to mind. Whoopi Goldberg, the black actress who convinced her white boyfriend to show up for a news conference in black face, is another black person with questionable affiliation to the black community.

But who were the main voices for this African based story? Jonathan Taylor Thomas of Home Improvement fame and Mathew Broderick did the voices for the main character, the lion Simba with blue eyes. But how many black people have blue eyes? For every black person lending their voice to this move there were more than four white people giving their voice. And if the complete credits of writers, producers, people who worked in the production department, art department, sound department, visual effects, camera and electrical, animation department, the editing department, the music department, and other assistants associated with this black movie from Disney and the ratio of black people who participated in the film to white people is more like one out of forty. More white people have a connection to this most African of movies from Disney.

One of my nieces in high school looked to be on the verge of tears in her eyes. “But I love Disney,” was all she had to say. Her brother added his opinion to the conversation. “That was Disney then. But it’s different now.” But what makes it different? In essence my nephew, who is also in high school, replied that it’s the twenty first century and nobody thinks that way any more. If Disney was still racist black people wouldn’t love it like they do.

Black people love Disney because they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the marketing and propaganda that says people love Disney. It’s not that Disney is such a supporter of the black community or black people. Disney is Disney because it supports white America and white people love the company. And in order for black people to have some semblance of being American we usually do our best to emulate and plug into the values of white America. The white community loves Disney. Disney propaganda supports white values. Therefore, Disney supports American values. And in order for black people to have American values black people must love Disney. So goes the misinformation of what it means to be an American.

Another niece, the one in college, added her voice to the conversation, “I don’t care. I love Disney and that’s all that’s important to me.” My other nieces and nephews laughed, a little more enthusiastically than normally in my opinion. The conversation drifted back to shopping and other superfluous topics. And so goes the mindset of the future representatives of the black community on Thanksgiving Day.

If I had to guess I would say that the mindset exhibited by these young blacks is pretty typical of the black community at large. Our children are more concerned with towing the line with values deeply rooted in concepts associated with assimilation and racism rather than values rooted in true black identity and black self determination. The two are no where near being mutually compatible. But if our children had to make a choice the vast majority would only care about whatever marketing tells the public to care about.

If the black community is to have a future then the black community needs to instill into the black children the values necessary for them to develop a conscience rooted in the black community. Dressing the black child’s room in Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse paraphernalia is akin to telling the black child this is what is important to your life, to your future, to your black community. And nothing could be further from the truth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Holidays, Life, Racism, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, Thoughts


  1. You are totally blowing this out of proportion. Im sure that Disney is not out to exclude black people in fact the newest Disney movie in 2009 is about a new Disney princess who happens to be black! When making the Lion King they searched for unique voice actors (white and black). Im also guessing that you have never seen Lion King on Broadway…Which is indeed a Disney production I might add.. Almost the entire cast consists of black people! So just get over it. The world is not out to get you. There is racism above the heads of everyone. Blacks, whites, Asians, Arabics, Jews you name it! We all have our problems just enjoy what the world gives you.

    Comment by Leah | Monday, August 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback Leah,

    You’re right, I’m blowing this way out of proportion. For the first time in the company’s eighty five year history it is about to release an animated film that features a black person as the main character after all the films that featured whites. That sounds fair and equitable. When making the Lion King they searched for unique voice actors and it was just a matter of happenstance that the main character, a blue eyed lion, ends up portrayed by a white person. That was totally incidental. And the fact that not a single Disney cartoon has ever featured a black voice actor is totally unintentional. So I should get over it because the theater production, that every kid sees while they are growing up, sets the record straight. The fact that they do it for a theater production is indicative of the importance of providing a black as possible cast has absolutely no bearing on what can be done when people are unaware of who’s behind what. Get over it! And I too can become a toady for the racially generic dominant culture that happens to promote white family values. I too will tell black people everywhere that the world is not out to get them even though the dominant class proves time and time again that it would prefer to act like black people don’t exist. And with a severely limited pool of black role models for black people we can all wonder why the black community is crumbling and black unity is a thing of the past. I too well yell from the top of my lungs that, Disney isn’t out to get you! Especially when it comes to jobs and other employment opportunities!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. Fair enough but your facts are a little skewed. For one thing Simba does not have blue eyes he has orange tinted eyes and in Lion King on Broadway you can clearly tell that only about two of the actors are white and the other…I dont know…thirty, forty actors are unmistakably African American. During the early years of Disney animation the majority of the characters were white. So in ways I do agree with you but that is a thing of the past. Disney of the 90’s consisted of several differing races including races that had not been yet introduced such as Arabics and Asians. Early Disney did have many flaws just like the rest of society but it wasnt against only blacks. Since then Disney has become more diverse when it comes to incorporating other races into their productions. Last thing…Im not sure if you were being sarcastic when you mentioned the job opportunities that Disney offers to blacks but I can assure you that people of the African American race have just a good a chance as being employed at Disney as everyone else. Programs such as the Disney Internship offered to college students have so many different diverse races involved in the program. I know this by experience because I am involved in the program and see how many people of different races work together. So please try to get your facts right before you start assuming.

    Comment by Leah | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. Leah,

    I don’t know if you noticed but the Simba photo at the top of this article has blue eyes, not orange. And you keep talking about the Disney production of the Lion King in the theater. It’s good that Disney wants to save face and promote more black actors in the live production. All the more reason people need to be aware that when you can’t see the actors being used, the actors being used are mostly white. Even when the character is supposed to be Arabic or Asian, the voice behind the character is white. Linda Larkin played princess Jasmine and Scott Weinger played Ali Ababwa. Neither one of these actors are Arabic. Talk about someone not getting all their facts straight.

    No one said Disney didn’t hire any black people. A lot of people are quick to say that the employment of one black person will satisfy any call for racial diversity. But the truth of the matter is Disney is about as accurate a reflection of America’s racial diversity as a klan rally. There might be a black person at the klan rally as well. It’s just a matter of circumstance that the only black person would be the only person on fire and hanging from a tree. Just because a black person is in the picture doesn’t automatically mean that we have racial diversity. Why don’t you spend more of your time getting your facts straight?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Reply

  5. Fine I am done with this senseless argument. You have your opinions and I have mine…I just really have to make one thing clear..Simba’s eyes are not fucking blue! The pupil has a blue tint to it but the flippin Iris is Orange! The color around the eye is what color your eyes are not the pupil! Pupils are always black but it has a tint of blue for shading..please just look closer cause that is really the only thing I have a problem with at this point…I cant help it im an art major sorry

    Comment by Leah | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Reply

  6. Leah,

    Talk about denial! Either you are anal or just intent on acting like an ass. Is not the pupil part of the eye? I don’t know anybody or anything that has blue pupils. If it is just a matter of shading then I guess the same shading process would be applied in other Disney cartoons. It doesn’t appear that way though. Why don’t you open your eyes, and that includes both the pupil and the iris, and look at how well your beloved Disney Corporation goes out of its way to accurately represent the interest of the black community.

    You are an intern at Disney. So it would have been a logical assumption that you have a first row seat to see how this company regularly under represents black people. But instead, you talk about one play out of how many hundreds or possibly thousands of Disney presentations. And that somehow makes everything equal and fair. And the cast of the original Lion King cartoon was not a reflection of the black community of Africa but a reflection of the dominant community of America that is predominantly white. Instead of looking at this issue for what it is, you want to talk about a sliver of flippin iris being orange. As if children are going to make this distinction when they watch this cartoon.

    However, I must agree with you on one significant point. This argument with you is truly senseless. You are so stuck on trying to defend Disney’s choice to ignore and devalue the black population of America that you refuse to see the reality of it through you own flippin eyes. Why did you even come here in the first place? The black community will never be able to heal itself as long as there are so many black people out there willing to overlook the disparity because they selfishly focus only on their personal welfare instead of the welfare of the entire black community.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Reply

  7. I agree with Leah, Simba’s eyes are clearly not blue. Have you even seen the movie? I tried to send a link but I dont think it worked, just check out any other picture of Simba online, or for that matter just watch the movie.

    Comment by Kimberly | Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the feedback Kimberly,

    But have you seen the picture above? Okay, I’m just going to have to admit I found the only picture in the entire film where this character has blue eyes. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the comments from you and Leah are sourced from similar IP addresses. Do you two know each other? Is this a totally impartial comment or another coincidence?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Reply

  9. Leah and Kimberly,

    Is that all that it takes for the character to be African to you is that he has orange eyes? I guess it doesn’t matter that ALL the main characters were voiced by white people. And don’t give me that crap about unique voices. Unless by unique voices you mean obviously white voices.

    You are both ridiculous. The Disney company has been racist from the beginning. Micky mouse is based on a black face character and you tell me that Disney has my freaking interests at heart. Give me a break.

    As a child I went to Disneyland and had the worst experience of my life from those racist monsters. I don’t care if Disney is making a black princess it is too little too late. The character is based on a bunch of stereotypical bull crap anyhow. A black chambermaid with a sidekick crocodile and a bunch of voodoo. Well that sounds endearing doesn’t it.

    Get a clue this company was founded by a racist and continues in that vain. You can be bamboozled all you like but don’t try and serve me your Kool Aid because that some swill I can’t stomach.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Reply

  10. i would say that Lion King is one of the best animated films that i have ever watched `-,

    Comment by Gel Fuel | Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Reply

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