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Is Disney Children’s Book Racist?

Reader Angela sent in this video where she takes us through the Disney published children’s book – It’s A Small World: Furry Friends. She sees something askew and possibly racist in the lesson the book is imparting to young children.

I’m in the middle of the road on this one. The author of this book obviously went out of their way to show a racially diverse world of many colors. That there was no child in Africa seems more like an omission related to an over-abundance of caution so as not to seem racist. But it could be interpreted both ways. So does the absence of a child in Africa look bad, yes. But does that one omission in an otherwise sensitive book mean the book is racist? I don’t think so.

Do you agree or disagree with Angela’s observation? Should Disney fix the book to avoid even the appearance of racism?

14 thoughts on “Is Disney Children’s Book Racist?”

  1. It seems to me that this is a woman who is just looking to create issues. She clearly has a problem with Disney and wants to see something bad in what they do.

    There are so many real problems in the world why are we looking create problems where there are none?

  2. What a stupid video! People are so hypersensitive about everything. This kinda crap is what keeps racism still alive. If we look hard enough we can find something wrong with everything. I think the woman in this video needs to get a life and become a productive citizen. I am “brown” if you want to call it that and have had a great life because I don’t get offended by silliness. I don’t go out looking for problems like this lady. The African child is wearing clothes from the region just like all the rest of them in the book. What a moron!

    1. Kristi, this young woman is not a moron… she understands institutional racism. It has affected the way African Americans are perceived and treated through out our lives. It even affects the way we feel and perceive ourselves. You’re brown and not black so your experience is different. I appreciate, very much, her perception and wisdom. Study one of the greatest psychologist and his affects on society (B.F. Skinner) and you will understand that where there is smoke there is fire, no matter how miniscule.

  3. Whenever there is a story like this I just remember the old truth about racism (or a anything negative for that matter): if you are looking everywhere for racism, you’re probably going to find it.

  4. I have this book, and I’ve read it many times to my son. I also have the “It’s a Small World” book, based on the song/ride. The book based on the full song/ride has children from all over the world, including Africa. “Furry Friends” is not about kids, it’s about animals and the different textures they represent. I don’t know why people have to read so much into things!

  5. I generally hate it when individuals read racism, sexism, or stereotyping into Disney stories. In this case, though, I agree there’s a problem. Disney should change the book. It’s an embarrassment.

    But I reject the idea (which is pretty outrageous) that the omission had anything to do with “institutional racism”. More likely someone in the art department was trying to be super politically correct (i.e. How dark should the African child be? Is it okay to portray them wearing tribal attire?) in hopes of AVOIDING accusations of racism.

    It’s a shame we’re even discussing this kind of thing.

    1. Thanks for your perception on this matter. As an African American woman I have faced discrimination many times, and sometimes I don’t know if people are treating me bad because of my color or if they are just cruel. Your wise imput have made me, once again, give the benefit of the doubt. Thanks!

  6. It’s ridiculous to suggest that this is racism. In fact, I think she is being quite racist by saying that people in Brazil are all brown when they are not. There are no Asian children in this book and no one thought about making sure they were represented.

    I think we’re all too quick to check the box, in this country, to make sure that there is one of all colors so that no one is left out. Realistically….does every one race, color or creed need to be present for a story to be understood or even told.

    Get over it!! Disney is the most politically correct company as of the last 20 years. It’s also ridiculous to eliminate classics such as “Song of the South” in this country (it’s distributed globally but not here) because of claimed racism. For that, we can shelf the movie “Roots” too.

  7. If you don’t like the book Disney put out, then don’t buy it (or get rid of it). Racism is a real and TERRIBLE thing. But nothing about that children’s book is racist. And people who have experienced TRUE racism should be offended that a children’s book could ever even slightly be associated with the awful things that they’ve had to endure.

    If it was really racists then you most definitely would’ve noticed it the first time you read the book!

  8. Angela, thank you sooo much for your insight. I am an African American woman that appreciates when White people recognize that we do face discrimination. Most of the African AmericanS I know appreciates that. It says to people who are discriminated against.; I know what’s happening to you-I feel your pain. I think we are more offended when people try to act as if racism does not exist. When you feel our pain, I know you care. Thank you! I don’t know it this was intentional, but I feel as if you are a person that cares. THANK YOU!!!!

  9. I doubt that it’s racism. It seems just stupidity. Why no one noticed is beyond me. They should definitely fix it, for future printings. I can understand how a black child might feel slighted by seeing Africa being represented but not a child from Africa. And Disney should know better.

  10. Not only do I think this women is looking for something to complain about, but I read your site everyday and I am very sad that you are advertising this.

  11. An omission of Africa, one of the largest, most diverse, and resource-rich continents in the world? Uhhh, that does sound pretty iffy. And by iffy I mean racist. Though I was way more horrified by all the “There’s no way this is racism! Everyone is too hypersensitive!!!!!” comments on your blog.

    People who don’t experience institutionalized racism (or in this specific case, anti-blackness) and are dismissive when people point it out are usually not only incredibly blind to the issues other people face, but usually touting some prejudices of their own. Pretty sure they’re the same people who’d be demanding to know where the white children are if it was the other way around. Good to know you have that kind of audience.

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