The Description of Jim Crow Laws in The Princess and the Frog

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Disney’s 2009 animated film The Princess and the Frog, is a story about an African American woman named Tiana who lives in New Orleans during the 1920’s. Tiana is a strong, independent, and beautiful woman who is determined to make her and her father’s dream of opening a restaurant a reality, but becomes distracted when she meets Prince Naveen who has been turned into a frog by Dr. Facilier. Prince Naveen mistakes Tiana for a princess and kisses her and turns her into a frog, so the two most go through the bayous of New Orleans to find the powerful voodoo priestess in order to become humans again. Although, The Princess and the Frog, is a movie with many lessons about believing in yourself, it is not an accurate depiction of racism during the 1920’s in New Orleans, stereotypes of African Americans, and New Orleans culture and it shows how racism still exists in our culture today.

During this time, in the Southern United States, Jim Crow laws were in place that enforced racial segregation. In a book written by Louis Armstrong, who lived during this time in New Orleans, he says, “Then I saw the signs on the backs of the seats saying: FOR COLORED PASSENGERS ONLY” (Armstrong 14). Louis shows that during this time period racism was still very predominate, and that even though he was a young boy during this time he could still understand what was going on during this time. The movie; however, does not show that black people were treated differently than white people, the movie makes it seem like during this time that black and white people were treated equally and lived in harmony when in reality they were segregated from the white people. Another inaccurate depiction of the movie is the conditions in which the African Americans lived in.

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In the movie, it makes it seem like African Americans during this time period lived in normal conditions and had no restrictions even though they were black which was not the case. In the notes, it states, “Sharecropping system, Jim Crow laws, and convict lease system worsens conditions for A.A” (Notes, October 14). This shows that during this time African Americans had to follow segregation rules which is not evident in the movie and that they would not have been able to interact with white people which is another reason the movie is historically inaccurate to the time period. Most black people during this time lived in poverty which is not very evident in the movie. Also, in the movie, Disney does not touch on lynching which was a major issue during this time period especially, in Louisiana. In the notes, it states, “Louisiana parishes 4 out of 5 places in US with highest rate of lynchings” (Notes, October 10). In the movie, there is nothing mentioned about any race issues much less the horrific lynching’s going on throughout this time period. This is another reason that the movie is historically inaccurate about racial issues.

Although, gumbo is a huge mainstream food known to New Orleans it is not the only food that the people of New Orleans eat. In a recipe on how to cook gumbo it says, “Add 100 oysters with their liquor; season to your taste” (The Creole Cookery Boook 40). In the movie, gumbo is used in many different scenes to make Tiana more relatable to the audience by using a dish that is well known to New Orleans. At the beginning of the movie, when they cook the gumbo it has shrimp in it, not oysters which shows that this is not the way people normally cooked this dish during this time. Although, gumbo is a dish that New Orleans people ate during this time period the movie does not accurately depict how it was cooked and made it seem like this was all they ever ate. The movie inaccurately depicts New Orleans culture in this way and stereotypes the people and what they ate.

Another historical error with the movie was the jobs that black women had during this time period. In the movie, Tiana is a waitress while her mom is a seamstress, but these jobs were not normal of black women during this time. In an article written by Breaux, it states, “For the historical period covered in The Princess and the Frog, the majority of black women would not have been maids, dressmakers, or waitresses, but laundresses” (Breaux 8). Although, there could be a chance that these two women had the jobs they had it was very unlikely which gives off inaccurate information of what it was like to be a black working woman during the 1920’s statistically speaking.

In the movie, Tiana dreams of opening up and owning a restaurant of her own, but this is nearly an impossible dream due to her color and social status. In an article written by Parasecoli, he says, “She is painfully reminded of her social condition as both a woman and a person of color; food for her can only be a service, not a professional career” (Parasecoli 14). This shows that most likely during this time a woman of color would not have been able to open up a restaurant like Tiana does at the end of the movie. Tiana, in the end, gets the restaurant without having to overcome any obstacles of her being a woman or a person of color. The quote shows she could only ever be a waitress not a restaurant owner, which is another reason why this movie is historically inaccurate.

In the movie, we see the relationship between Charlotte and Tiana and how they are allowed to play together (The Princess and the Frog 1:25-2:58). During this time period, this would have been highly unlikely because blacks and whites were not allowed to interact with one another. This makes the viewer think that they would have had a normal friendship when this is not the case it is just Disney covering up and avoiding racial issues during this time period.

The last thing this movie shows is how racisms is still evident in our society today. This movie was Disney’s first ever black princess, but the black princess was mostly green the whole movie (The Princess and the Frog 29:53-1:27:49). This shows that although Disney made this movie to not seem racist, the black princess was only black for a short part of the movie which shows how racism is still evident today. Another thing that could be considered racist is that the black princess marries someone who has somewhat of white race in him making it seem like Disney does not think a prince could be all black. This shows that although this movie came out in 2009 racism is still predominate in today’s society.

Overall, The Princess and the Frog does not accurately depict the issues of race, stereotypes, and culture in New Orleans during the 1920’s. It does not show the harsh conditions and segregation that African Americans had to endure during this time period. Instead, the movie makes it seem like everyone in this time period lived in harmony and had no problems with race. The movie also shows that racism still exists in today’s society even years after laws about slavery have been abolished. Although, this story is inaccurate it shows the viewer positive relationships between black and white people and shows female viewers how to be independent and never give up on your dreams.

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The Description of Jim Crow Laws in The Princess and the Frog. (2022, Sep 01). Retrieved from

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