A little while ago there was an Internet brou-ha-ha over Disney’s decision to cast singer Halle Bailey as Ariel in their upcoming live action version of The Little Mermaid. The harrumph is due to Bailey’s skin color.
I say the uproar is silly—it’s a fairytale, and if there’s one carved-in-stone-truth about fairytales it’s that they must and do change with the times. (Besides, I haven’t heard Bailey sing, but apparently she’s got an amazing voice. Scratch that: here’s a video clip of her singing “Unforgettable”, and her voice is indeed awesome. Talent is talent despite the shell it comes in.)
But in case someone’s arguing how black mermaids aren’t historical or some other claptrap (not even starting on mermaids being fictional to begin with), allow me to present a statue of one:
This statue depicts Dona Fish, part of the many Mami Wata traditions of Africa. As a water spirit that straddles earth and water, she often appears with the head and torso of a woman and the tail of a fish—i.e., just like a (western) mermaid.
Smithsonian had an exhibit on Mami Wata, and some materials are still available online. I encourage you to visit.
Image: Dona Fish, photo by Don Cole via Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (Ovimbundu peoples, Angola; c. 1950s-1960s; wood, pigment, metal, mixed media)
Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.