Wiki Chapter

Stereotypes against ethnicities

Many teachers let their students watch the famous movies in the classroom for taking break, letting them take notes some important points about the theme of the movie. However, most teachers are likely to miss the most significant points of letting them watch movies in the classroom. By focusing on a specific point of the movie, students and teachers can make use of time of watching movies even though it is merely the time to take a break. Almost every student has watched the Disney movies in their childhoods and they had a good time to watch them, and they see the Disney movies as a means of entertainment in their life. Meanwhile, some of the Disney movies contain some serious problems of stereotypes toward ethnic minorities or toward color of the characters’ skin and the problems of discriminative phrase in the lyrics in the movies. I would like to argue with these problems. As you know, most Disney princesses are characterized based on white people. However, after 1990s, non-white people appeared as Disney princesses, such as Pocahontas and Jasmine. It is because Multiculturalism, which is the policy to understand and respect with each other in terms of a variety of races, religions, and ethnic groups, was taken into consideration from 1980s to 1990s. The reason why Multiculturalism appeared during that period is because some ethnic minorities criticized the Eurocentrism and white supremacy. Civil Rights Movement had motivated other ethnic minorities’ movements.Their movements could have a big influence on the society, and then non-white princesses began to apprear in the movies. However, even after non-white princesses appeared in the Disney movies, there are still problems of discriminative descriptions about their ethnicities.
Besides the Disney Films, there are some video clips that refer to people's self-esteem in terms of color of skin and hair. Even now, there are so many people who are from the African American ethnicity feel inferior to white people in the point of their appearance, and it really affects their self-esteems and their school work.
In addition, white supremacy can affect non-white people's identities or self-esteems. How their skin color and hair have been affecting their self-esteems is demonstrated in the video clips below. They refer to those problems: how ethnic minorities are described in the movies and what kinds of words are used in the movies.

Disney Princesses


These are major princesses in the Disney movies. As you can see, three of them are non-white princesses: Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Each of them wears the traditional clothes. On the other hand, other princesses who are white wear the dresses. Why non-white people cannot be a princess in the non-cultural stories? Jasmine is the princess in the Arabian counrty and Pocahontas is Indian in America. They are used only for describing their ethnicities and the real history in a certain country. If the story is not about something specific like Indian or Abaric, non-white girls are not used as princesses in the movies. This perspective can point out that almost all the filmmakers have a stereotype that white people are more beautiful than non-white people.
As I mentioned above, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Mulan appeared in the movies as princesses after 1990 during which the movement was active in America.

A Song "Savages" in Pocahontas

Pocahontas was the first one to become the Disney princess of the three. However, there are some discriminative phrases toward her ethinicity in this movie. In this song "Savages", Indian are seen as inferior people by white people in terms of thier color of skin and thier humanity. Therefore, the leader of Powhatan, which is the name of the ethnicity of Pocahontas, protested about the content of the movie. The filmmaker described them as savages, therefore, a lot of people who watched this film could get a image of Powhatan. Teachers have to think about those problematic issues in this film and they should not only let students watch it but also make them think about the content seriously and discuss with each other in the classroom. In addition, the effect of low ley lighting is used a lot in the scene of the beginning the fight to distinguish with other scenes.It does really express the characters' feelings towards each other.

A Song "Arabian Night" in Alladin

This song is used as an opening song in the Film "Aladdin" and its lyric characterizes the Arabic world as alien and barbaric. In addition, those who watch this film are immediately given the images of Arabic world as a place that is full of deserts and camels by this songs and the pictures. Also, in this film, there are some curious points.The two main characters, Jasmine and Aladdin, are relatively light-skinned and have Anglo-American accents. On the contrary, the other characters are dark-skinned and have Arabic accents. Moreover, thier facial features are grotesque. This is the points that filmmakers have a certain stereotype toward Arabic people.
In addition, this movie can connect to the incident on September 11th in 2001 because after this incident, a lot of Arabic and Muslim people were discriminated and seen as terrorists. When American children hear the word "Arab", a film "Aladdin" would come to their mind. This film is very popular among children, but teachers must not forget that it contains a lot of discriminative elements toward Arabic people and it can hurt children's identities. Before the incident in 2001, the stereotype towards Arabic had already rooted in the society, even inthe movies. And then after the incident, the stereotype became more powerful among people.

A Girl Like Me

The stereotype that white people are more beautiful and more superior can affect those who are dark-skinned in terms of their self-esteem. I thought that this video clip is very useful for Japanese students to learn ethnicities or their identities.
There are many ethnic groups and they live in the same country, in America, and they have different historical backgrounds for each. As Japanese students study English or American culture, they must be curious of how they identify themselves or others.
This video clip is about Doll Test which was done by Kenneth Clark to search how dark skin can affect children's self-esteem. In addition, this is true not only for those who have dark skin but also for light skin, because many young Japanese people dye their hair to gold or light color, put extention on their eyeblows, enlarge their eyes, prevent their skin from sunburn, and so on.
In the class, students can connect their experiences to this test in terms of exploring what the criteria for beauty are.

I Love My Hair

This song, which was released to make those who are African American smile, is refering to their self-acceptance in terms of thier hair, because many African American girls want to have straight hair like white people in spite of having beauty about their hair. Thanks to this song, many people are inspired and encouraged. The character is repeating the phrase "I love my hair" many times. It really can make people feel that they can accept their hair positively and they can find many advantages of having curly hair in this song.

Teachers can tell thier students how hair or color of thier skin can affect thier self-esteem in the English class when they read through the story about the history of African American people. Also, students can connect their experiences to the story in terms of self-esteem.