Racists Are Trying To Scientifically Prove Why Ariel, A Fictional Mermaid, Can’t Be Black

racists try to use mermaid science to prove ariel can't be black

Hoo boy. Well, let’s not pretend we didn’t see it coming: the racists are at it again, and this time they’re super mad about Disney casting Halle Bailey, an African-American woman, in the lead role of their live-action ‘The Little Mermaid‘ reboot. In fact, they’re not only mad – they’re invoking the power of science to prove that Ariel, a mythical creature and work of fiction, COULDN’T be black.

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All of these arguments – and I must make it abundantly clear that these are very, very stupid arguments about a fictional character who is also a creature of myth – focus on a deeply misguided understanding of melanin and sunlight exposure.

Namely, most of the racists trying to invoke “science” as to why Ariel must be pale of skin are saying that mermaids live underwater, therefore aren’t exposed to sunlight, therefore wouldn’t have the melanin required to have dark skin.


Once again. Fictional character. Who is a mermaid. I.e. not real. This is where the conversation has come to.

Correct me if I’m wrong,” one dummy asks on Twitter, “but isn’t it physically impossible for Ariel to be black? She lives underwater, how would the sun get to her for her to produce melanin?! Nobody thought this through..?

Yep, that’s what happened: no-one thought through the science. The science of mermaids.

Putting aside the fact that this is all motivated by a combination of racism and jealous refusal to allow treasured stories from childhood to grow and evolve to serve new generations, let’s examine this underwater = white mermaids theory.

First of all, how deep below the sea do mermaids actually live? It’s true that very deep sea fish tend to be pale, but in the animated Little Mermaid we clearly see many of the merfolk living in what appear to be well-lit shallows, surrounded by colourful marine life of the kind that live in warm, sunny seas.

Secondly, whales certainly do spend a lot of time deep down in the depths of the sea. Remind me, what colour are they, most of the time? Could it be that pale colouring is so unusual that the plot of a cornerstone of the Western literary canon revolves around the rarity of one particular… white whale? Would that suggest that the majority of whales are… not white?

Thirdly, why is THIS the point at which your suspension of disbelief breaks down? Why not the fact that this character somehow has the top half of a mammalian land species and the bottom of a fish – but turned sideways so her tail flukes look more like a whale – but she def has scales? How does she breathe? Where are her gills? And if she lives so far below the surface of the sea that she’s completely lacking in pigment, why aren’t her eyes either gigantic or non-existent like most of the other creepy creatures of the deep?

Fortunately there are plenty of people wiser than me who are willing to take on this particularly dumb form of racist science gotcha-ism, and also there’s already a bunch of awesome fan art featuring Halle Bailey and I love it.




Mermaid science. Lord help us all.