Joe in Soul as a human from pixar

Things We Saw Today: Soul and Black Characters Who Didn’t Get Their Due in Animation

This article is over 3 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

As Soul heads to Disney+ on December 25th, it has brought to life many conversations about the history of Black people in animation. Especially the tendency to turn Black characters into animals and other inhuman things. It is a part of Soul as well and sadly one of the things that makes me anxious about the film.

Andrew Tejada, writing for Tor.com, breaks down the disappointment about Tiana, Disney’s first Black American princess being a frog for half the time and how it meant to Black viewers to be denied their place in animation. While that is changing, movies like Soul, in which the lead character is an inhuman blue spirit for a chunk of the film, is a reminder of times past.

Tejada writes:

“When it comes to representing people of color in animation, we need more and more stories like Moana and Hair Love and Into the Spider-Verse. These movies are shining examples of how to represent characters of color. Moreover, they all proved that you don’t need to change the physical appearance of minority leads in order for audiences to embrace them. When you craft great animated stories about characters of color living in their worlds, people will support them. And maybe, just maybe, seeing these diverse characters in theaters will help audiences understand other realities, and other kinds of experiences, by seeing what someone who doesn’t look like them goes through every day. In the divided world of 2020, we could all use more empathy and understanding.”

(via Tor, image: Disney Pixar)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Author
Image of Princess Weekes
Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.