princess of north sudan

Oh, joy. Disney is slated to add another princess to their line-up—this one, an African. Which just might be a cause for celebration here at MyBrownBaby, seeing that Disney is hardly synonymous with the celebration of blackness. But you won’t be hearing any cheering from this way. Because the impending film, The Princess of North Sudan, is about a real life white girl. Whose real life father promised her that she could be a princess. And then travelled to a remote part of Africa, planted a homemade flag in the soil, named the land “North Sudan,” and proclaimed himself “king” and his daughter “princess.” Without the slightest bit of irony or consideration of, oh, I don’t know, the history of white men and colonization, white privilege and its effects on people of color, the dangers of raising spoiled ass kids who think they’re entitled to anything they ask for or the utter ridiculousness of “claiming” Earth (particularly that which has been settled by humans for centuries) as your own. But hey, Disney thinks it would make for great entertainment, so get your popcorn and JuJu Beans ready; this all will be coming to a theater near you.

You feel your blood pressure rising? Some heart palpitations? A sudden urge to yell out all the curse words in the all the languages?

Yeah, get in line.

It was ridiculous enough when, around this time last year,  stories started floating about one Jeremiah Heaton, a dad and farmer from Virginia, who, rendered completely incapable of saying “no” to his daughter when she asked him if she could be a real-life,bonified, legit princess, combed the world’s globe for a piece of “unclaimed” land to call his own. Heaton settled, literally, on Bir Tawil, a triangle of land between Egypt and Sudan that, because of ancient maps and politics, technically belongs to neither of the African countries. Never mind that satellite imagery reveals evidence of frequent visitation—a space that, according to Alasdair Pinkerton, a senior lecturer in the geopolitics department of Geography at Royal Holloway University of London, is likely “occupied, utilized and stewarded, and layered with geographical, historical and narrative complexities.” The white guy from Virginia wanted his baby to be a princess, so he and his little family made them a homemade flag and he trekked through the dessert to raise said flag in the rocks of Bir Tawil, on his daughter’s birthday, no less, so that when she turned seven, she could, according to him, be a legit princess and heir to his newly claimed and named country, Northern Sudan, where he is King Jeremiah.

*insert massive eye roll right here* Jeremiah Heaton

Now, I thought that surely, by now, someone would have tapped Ol’ King Jeremiah on the shoulder and told him white boys from Virginia don’t get to “claim” lands no mo’ and suggesting you have that right—on African land, no less—pretty much makes those of us with sense and a knowledge of history equate you as every bit as greedy, callous and tyranty as, say, Napoleon Bonaparte, President Andrew Jackson and that bastard Christopher Columbus. But nope. Not only is Heaton still calling himself a king and his darling Emma a princess, this nut is actually crowdsourcing money to, wait for it… make “his nation” a place “dedicated to researching and developing solutions for our current global food shortages and impending food crisis.” He’s raised just over $5100 to solve world hunger, y’all.

But this isn’t the most egregious part of the story. Not by a stretch. No, we reserve that for Disney, which recently announced it’d found a writer for its tentatively-titled film, Princess of Northern Sudan, a flick the studio says will “focus on the father-daughter relationship” between Heaton and his little princess and use his foolishness over in Bir Tawil as a “jumping-off point for a fantastical adventure.”

If Disney doesn’t get thee entire hell on with this mess…

How in the world is yet another white guy wielding his white privilege and entitlement to TAKE and CLAIM something that doesn’t belong to him a good jumping off point for anything any of us moms would EVER want our children to see? Who in the hell wants to see that? What, turning Pocahontas into a coke-bottled hottie wasn’t enough? Aren’t we still mad about Sofia the First, who was supposed to be the first Latina princess until, well, she wasn’t? Can Disney maybe focus on another Princess & the Frog movie in which Princess Tiana is an actual human for the majority of the movie, rather than a croaky, green, warty amphibian?

Disney, nobody needs you to co-sign this madness. Not when there are a million beautiful stories of humans doing amazing, adventurous things that do not involve you going on a blatant money grab while insulting the crap out of billions. Real talk: Disney and Heaton can take his little homemade flag and shove it in that no man’s land where the sun don’t shine.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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