These Children Want Disneyland To Get Rid Of Stereotypes

Photo: Charles Sykes/ REX USA
Disneyland is generally considered a place where kids develop a lifelong love of roller coasters or a just as lengthy aversion to cotton candy. But for two third-graders from New York City, it was a place to recognize and think about culturally ingrained stereotypes. Dexter and his friend Sybilla decided to write a lengthy letter to the "happiest place on earth," explaining why certain parts of the park that enforce racial and gender stereotypes might not make everyone happy. As the pair explains in their letter, "We noticed that on our trips to Disneyland and Disneyworld that all the cast members call people Prince, Princess, or Knight, judging by what the child 'looks like' and assuming gender. We think some feelings could get hurt, say by accident you called someone a Prince who wasn’t a Prince or a Princess, or a Knight, or who was identifying differently than what they were called. We suggest you say 'Hello, Your Royalty' instead." The open letter found its way to the web via Brain Pickings, a blog written by Maria Popova, a family friend of Dexter's. Popova notes that Dexter and Sybilla's school, The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine, is proactive in teaching students about the consequences of white privilege, which may have contributed to the young whistle-blowers' preternatural ability to recognize the stereotypes the park perpetuates. Try to focus on the fact that kids like these are the future, not that when you were 9 years old, the only letters you were writing were to the Leonardo DiCaprio fan club.

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