I read this article over at Black Voices, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Most white folk would start this off by writing "I'm not racist but....", instantly tipping you off to the bullshit that will follow. It was strange to me reading this article, having seen screen shots of the film while looking at my little sister's Disney Princess Magazine with her, because I just saw another Disney movie, not even realizing that she was the first Black Disney Princess.
This isn't true about all children, some kids' parents raise hatred in their children in an endless cycle, but most children in '09 don't recognize race as something that matters. They understand that skin comes in different colors, but the same way hair and eyes do, they take it as just something else that makes everyone different. The only people who will be and are upset about Princess Tiana are adults, of all races, and the movie isn't made for them.
There have been non-white female leads in Disney animated movies before, Pocahontas, Mulan and the only princess amongst the few minority leads, Jasmine. In Aladdin, the racist stereotypes are plentiful and were accepted, the main characters held American accents while the supporting cast were full of "arabian sounding" short fat men in turbans, elephants and belly dancers. This, of course, is ignored because it doesn't take place in America, so it isn't offensive to us. We accept them as just characters, and the dummies out there just think that that's how them A-rabs talk.
As if racist White people weren't upset enough over an African-American not only in the White House, but in Cinderella's Castle, the prince in this movie isn't exactly Black, having light skin, brown wavy hair and the voice of a Brazillian actor.
The royal interracial couple is causing an uproar not for being two different skin tones, but because Prince Naveen isn't Black. The general feeling is that having two Black characters would be too much, so they settled on the princess, but it's also entirely possible that it's just a statement on interracial relationships, or a weird safe maneuver to "kill two birds with one stone". It's unfortunate that a couple with two different skin tones is a negative thing, some triumphs are ignored for other's selfish motives.
Taking place in New Orleans, Tiana is not only the first Black princess, she's also the first American. Certain Southern stereotypes come into play, such as the extremely racist firefly in the above trailer, Disney basically ignoring the retaliation of using such an offensive "dialect" for comedy. Rarely do I read into things this much, and although there are White "bayou" dudes out there, this is extremely offensive, the Uncle Tom reference will be lost on children, but if the movie is popular enough there will be toys of this guy, and little kids repeating "massa".
The main issue with the characters race isn't their race, it's adults forcing their fucked up, over-intellectualization of their childhood into the children of today, like people who want to have these smart-guy conversations about Bert and Ernie being gay, or even the actually true Disney movie "disgruntled employee" implanted boners and sexy words. Kids don't notice these things, it's in there for the parents to have a quick laugh. The alternative to this has become Shrek, which has nothing actually redeeming about it, you completely lose what makes a kid movie great, which is the innocence. As long as kids are watching something they enjoy and no one is hurt, than who cares?