African American Identity Analysis

Good Essays
Does Disney’s use of AAVE strip Tiana of her African American Identity? When you think of Disney what comes to mind? Most of us would say princesses, magic, castles, fairy tales, happily ever afters. These all may be true, but one important feature is lacking from this list, stripped identities. According to critics of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), the exaggerated use of it reinforces African American stereotypes. (Rickford 14-15). Elements of AAVE are found throughout the Disney movie Princess and The Frog. The features are found in the language of the African American characters Mama Odie, Louis, Ray, etc. but never appears in Disney’s first African American Princess, Tiana. A person’s language makes up who they are, their…show more content…
Tiana instead uses Southern American English. Disney acknowledges AAVE’s legitimacy by using it in their African American characters’ dialogues, but chooses not to have Princess Tiana speak it. However, if language makes up a person’s identity, then Disney denies Princess Tiana’s African American identity by having her not speak AAVE. As stated previously, Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans during the 1920’s. Historically, it is a time when segregation is prominent yet there are many instances go against a segregated community. These include the fact that Tiana’s best friend is a white upper class woman and that she marries outside of not only her class but also her race. This could explain the language difference between the two…show more content…
However, if AAVE is exaggerated then it perpetuates stereotypes. So, in Princess and the Frog AAVE is appropriately used amongst their African American characters. It is evident that features such as zero copula and double negative aid in representing the vernacular form. It is a point of interest that Mama Odie heavily uses AAVE and represents the vernacular, but Tiana uses Standard English and Southern Standard English. A possible reason for this distinction would be that Tiana is stripped of her African American identity, which allows her to act like a white person and have the same privileges as the other white characters. Therefore, although Disney correctly uses AAVE, the lack of it in Tiana’s language and the use of it in other African American characters suggest that Disney’s use of AAVE does not allow Tiana to embrace her African American
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