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When an executive producer for Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess said that Sofia is Disney’s first Latina princess, he was, unbeknownst to him, setting in motion a multi-layered discussion on Latina identity, what constitutes “Latina looks” and a crush of celebration and criticism.

As the story took on a life of its own, Disney felt they had to come out with a statement clarifying what their make-believe princess is — and isn’t. The end result is that Sofia is not actually Latina.

“What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide said in a post on the Princess Sofia Facebook page. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”


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There has been Jasmine and Tiana, Mulan and Pocahontas, but never before has there been a Latina Disney princess. Until now. Disney is about five weeks away from the introduction of Princess Sofia, who will make her debut on the Disney Channel on Nov. 18 in TV movie Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, ahead of a 2013 TV series on both Disney Channel and Disney Junior. The TV movie and the show are geared toward viewers age 2-7.


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In the words of Tim Gunn: "This concerns me."



Opinion: New Disney’s Latina princess Sofia looks like me


Everyone was looking forward to Disney’s first Latina princess, Sofia, who will make her TV debut Nov. 18. And now there’s criticism surrounding the accurate portrayal of her ethnicity? This is rich. All of us in the Latino community have been asking brands to STOP stereotyping us – we don’t all eat beans, we don’t all play the guitar, trust me we are not all good gardeners and our skin comes in all shades. Would the reaction be different if Sofia were dark skin with brown eyes and also rolled her “Rs”? That would have mobilized a protest of epic proportions!


Slow down crazy slow down )
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WHILE THE REPRESENTATION IS OFT DUBIOUS and their thematics questionable (cliche), looking back, particularly in the year 2000, the Disney Channel certainly wasn't shy about using POC actors in roles beyond the "supportive best friend" type before they became threadier and threadier. The following below are just a few "Disney Channel Original Movies" that were quite popular and reran frequently when the channel focused on a demographic beyond the music camp.



Twitches (2005)
In the magic realm of Coventry, the twin sisters Artemis and Apolla are saved by their protectors Illeana and Karsh from the Darkness and brought to another dimension. They are adopted by different families but in their twenty-first birthday, their protectors force them to meet each other. Alex Fielding lost her mother three months ago and is alone seeking a job while Camryn Barnes lives with her beloved wealthy parents. Once together they find that they have magic powers and they should return to Coventry to save their biological mother and their kingdom from the Darkness [SOURCE].



The Color of Friendship (2000)
Mahree Bok lives on a farm in South Africa. Her father is a policeman who cannot hide his joy when activist Steve Biko is caught by the South African authorities. Piper Dellums is the daughter of a US congressman from California and who lives in a nice home in Washington DC. When Mahree is chosen to spend a semester at the Dellums’ house, she doesn’t expect that her host family would be black. Nor do her hosts suspect that she is not a black South African. [SOURCE]


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Disney has worked overtime in recent years to leave that past behind, and a surprising groundswell of support from black viewers for a new TV cartoon called “Doc McStuffins” is the latest indication that its efforts may be paying off.

Aimed at preschoolers, “Doc McStuffins” centers on its title character, a 6-year-old African-American girl. Her mother is a doctor (Dad stays home and tends the garden), and the girl emulates her by opening a clinic for dolls and stuffed animals. “I haven’t lost a toy yet,” she says sweetly to a sick dinosaur in one episode.

“It truly warmed my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes when my 8-year-old, Mikaela, saw ‘Doc McStuffins’ for the first time and said, ‘Wow, mommy — she’s brown,’ ” Kia Morgan Smith, an Atlanta mother of five, wrote on her blogCincomom.com. Myiesha Taylor, a Dallas doctor who blogs at CoilyEmbrace.com, took her praise a step further, writing, “This program featuring a little African-American girl and her family is crucial to changing the future of this nation.”


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131 African American Women Physicians From Around The World Join Together To Express Thanks And Support For Disney’s Groundbreaking Children’s TV Show Doc McStuffins.



Since the Cosby show went off the air in 1992, we have not seen as many positive African American images on T.V. as we had hoped. This was especially true for our small children. Outside of Sesame Street, it seemed that children’s TV was still lacking the representation of diversity that made up the United States. But that has all changed with one new children’s program.

We have written a couple of entries in our blog about why we love Disney’s Doc McStuffins. We have discussed how we believe that this program featuring a little African American girl and her family is crucial to changing the future of this nation.

We also started a campaign to express our thanks to Disney and Brown Bag Films for creating, producing and airing Doc McStuffins. What started out as a simple collage of a few African American women physicians expressing thanks to Disney and Brown Bag Films has now taken on a life of its own. When we first started the collage we never thought we would get anywhere close to the current number of physicians who have agreed to lend their image to this project. But here we stand today with what we believe may be one of the most moving visual images of African American women in some time. [SOURCE]

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People of Color in Disney

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