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Making Waves in the Community: Community Views the new Little Mermaid

Photo Above: Jessica Turner and daughter Jaelle Armstrong are all smiles after the movie screening.

by Khalilah Jones

On Saturday, May 27th, Chic & Classy Image Consulting and Beyond Fitness with Sabrina partnered to provide discourse about representation, a fierce, radical and unapologetic self acceptance and the importance of amplifying your voice. The newly released Disney Little Mermaid live action movie featuring Halle Bailey as the lead character, was the perfect backdrop for this intimate conversation. 

Selah Powe, a young change maker in her own right, takes a break from arranging swag bags, to pose with organizer, Khalilah Jones

Held at Violet Crown, this event included the free movie screening, a kid’s snack pack with popcorn, Welch’s fruit snacks and a small drink, for 5-12 year old Black girls that are “Making Waves in the Community” and a parent or guardian. The co-organizer’s goal was to ensure that these phenomenal children are recognized and celebrated. Also, for those who may not normally be able to attend, due to accessibility or cost are able to do so. 

Organizer, Sabrina poses with this young movie goer

The nomination process involved community partners, parents, guardians and mentors submitting their favorite local Little Mermaid who exhibits traits comparable to Disney’s iconic Little Mermaid, Ariel. Those traits include (but are not limited to) bravery, wit, kindness, leadership and adventurous spirit. The personal anecdotes shared from the nominators were heartfelt and reaffirmed our confidence in the future change makers of the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. 

After wrapping the discussion on the magic in our voice, the group posed while waiting for the start of the film.

When the exciting news broke that this movie was coming out, immediately followed by a tsunami sized wave of backlash, due to the fact that the lead character was being played by a Black woman, I knew it was important to have young ladies see this movie in an environment together where they can have discourse. 

Too often, Black women and girls are told we are somehow too much, yet still not enough. Society has laid out, in no uncertain terms, what the “standard” of beauty is and our young impressionable girls do not see themselves reflected in that standard. The nominations received, said otherwise. These Little Mermaids are redefining “the standard”. 

We also recognize that Ariel did not realize how important her voice was until she had lost it. Together, with the support of sponsors Vinegar Hill Magazine, DSID, IX Art Park, 4Z Digital, DeLaRoll and CTI, the young ladies had the opportunity to amplify their voices. 

Along with the deliciously buttery scent of popcorn, the very important Mermaids were greeted with age specific, mermaid themed swag bags. These swag bags were curated by 11 year old, Miss Selah Powe of An Amazing Kid Co. Each girl was given a personalized certificate with the positive words the community shared about them. One lucky parent walked away with a beautiful, wicker basket donated by a staunch community supporter…definitely a self care dream, imagined.

While we were surprised that the theater did not have any signage for the movie, we showed up and showed out for the occasion. The group for sure said in no uncertain terms, “The Little Mermaid is HERE!” There was an almost palpable feeling of camaraderie when each young guest laid eyes on another who was adorned in Black Little Mermaid t-shirts, an impressive mermaid inspired tulle dress, leggings and a maxi skirt fashioned to simulate mermaid scales (okay those last two were the hostesses, don’t judge us!). 

Joey Lynch and Corinthian “CC” Gatewood excitedly explore their swag bags while awaiting the start of the movie.

We opened with brief introductions, talked about the significance of the movie, the spirit of advocacy and amplifying our voices. The movie followed, immediately, thereafter. 

After watching the riveting movie (which, I must say, roused a rogue tear or two), the guests were met in concessions, by the Little Mermaid, courtesy of Character Connections. The VIPs (AHEM, very important princesses) had photo ops with the character which concluded the Making Waves in the Community event. 

On Memorial Day, Dr. Wes Bellamy hosted an opportunity for the community to attend a free showing of the movie, as well. It was truly euphoric to see the Black Girl Magic and Black Boy Joy, during the “Making Waves” event and while I was not present, I can say with full confidence, the same held true during the Memorial Day screening. 

Oh, before I sign off, you know there’s always going to be a fashion and style element to my offerings. I worked with a vendor, Kimetic, who designed a t-shirt to my specifications. The shirt featured a decidedly beautiful Black mermaid with locs and rich shades of purple, deep turquoise and glistening gold. The shirt boldly states Making Waves…Stronger than the tide! This, while a gorgeous shirt, is indeed, a call to action! We encourage you to amplify your voice, continue to sow the seeds and cultivate the spirit of advocacy, in spite of the overwhelming external (and sometimes internal) opposition. Thank you Halle Bailey for weathering the storm and making waves with this movie.

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Vinegar Hill Magazine is a space that is designed to support and project a more inclusive social narrative, to promote entrepreneurship, and to be a beacon for art, culture, and politics in Central Virginia.

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