No One Is Coming To Save You, Black Girl: A Reckoning
Recently, I watched Beauty and The Beast. I was excited to finally see the live-action version after having been a huge fan of the animated classic. I always saw myself in Belle. She loved books. She lived with her dad, he was an artist. She was different in her hometown because she was into things that most of the other girls didn't care about. She was an odd-bird but she was the girl the cutest man in the village loved and she found an even odder-bird to build with. And he gave her a library. A LIBRARY, bruh.
But as the word says, when I was a child---I thought like a child. But now that I'm grown, I've put aside all childish things. As I let the little girl inside of me be transported to the land of fairytales---I couldn't help but whisper to her softly:
No one is coming to save you, black girl.
Happily ever afters don't apply to you. Even The Princess and the Frog reminds you that you must work twice as hard for your simple dreams and swim through swampy waters with strange bedfellows to spend a small amount of time as a Princess if you can shake the curse of your Blackness long enough to get the reluctant Prince to kiss you. There will be no one to come and "not care" about your past or reward you for "holding him down". There is no knight on horseback. There will be no sympathy for the pain you endure at the hands of men who you build dup to superstardom only for them to abuse your trust, break up your home and eventually marry his mistress who he publicly refers to as his "rib". And should you have the audacity to demand atonement for their role in your demise, the public will tell you to take your bitterness like a daily vitamin and leave that pretty little harlot alone to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Or maybe you'll become one of the most prolific artists in the world and you deliver one of the most important albums to date---while your less talented male peers are allowed to molest children, sexually/physically abuse women and wear their sins loud and proud---you'll be chastised for showing up late. Belittled by artists with little to no talent on the grand stage for the sake of a joke. Your inherent royalty ignored in a culture you helped shape.
Disney doesn't include us. Motherless, fatherless, orphaned, raised by "the wild" Black girls don't get to live in castles with wealth thrust onto them like a fluffy white bathrobe. There is only what they pray, meditate, cry and daily affirm into their lives riddled with reminders that "you are what you attract"---making them to blame for any abuse that befalls them. They claw. They work. They endure. And then they must find their own castles in neighborhoods that allow them to live alongside society's "royals". I tried my best to replace Belle's face with that of my own. Feeling that maybe I was too jaded from my own life to see me being handed the keys to a castle as a punishment---I decided to try the faces of women like Sabrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. Pictured her yelling in the town's square about the "Beast" that had stolen her son. I imagined the town coming out for her. Armed with whatever weapons they could use to take down this monster. Arriving at the "Beast"-s door and pushing their way in. Demanding that he be held responsible for his actions. They storm up the stairs to the lair of the "Beast" and finally, he's hit. He's down. The last petal has fallen. Justice has been served. But I remember that George Zimmerman lived. Someone saved him. Threw their body over his and wept for his survival.
Belle did, actually.
Belle felt safe enough in her life to make room to see the good in monsters. Belle had enchanted mirrors and talking dishes that did what dash cams and self-love sessions won't. From the very start of the film the villagers let Belle know she was seen, heard---albeit misunderstood, a beauty but a funny girl---she was still worthy of protection and love. Not only in her personal life but in the world at large. There is always a savior for a girl like Belle. Maybe that's what really made her shine to me. But the little girl in me cried as the last credit rolled because we both know that the only savior Black women will ever have is ourselves. And that's something Disney will never understand.