The U.S. women’s national soccer team proved their dominance at the 2019 Women’s World Cup by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday in the championship match.
The victory in Lyon, France — capping an unrivaled run and capturing the world’s attention — marks both the fourth world title and back-to-back wins for the U.S. women after taking home the trophy in 1991, 1999 and 2015.
The first half of the game went scoreless, with co-captain Megan Rapinoe earning the first goal of the game with a penalty kick at the 61-minute mark. Just before the 69-minute mark, midfielder Rose Lavelle, 24, scored the second goal.
“It’s surreal,” Rapinoe, 34, said after the win. “I don’t know how to feel right now. It’s ridiculous.”
Following the victory, Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot for the most goals scored in the shortest amount of time.
Rapinoe and teammate Alex Morgan both scored six goals and had three assists, but Rapinoe’s goals were scored in 394 minutes compared to Morgan’s 445 minutes, the BBC reported.
After Sunday’s win, the internet exploded with praise for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated them with a tweet, as well as first lady Melania Trump and tennis star Billie Jean King, who added a call for the women to receive equal pay to their male counterparts.
“It is long past time to pay them what they rightly deserve,” King wrote.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that a parade would be held on Wednesday for the women’s team.
The U.S. women’s national team roared onto the field during the group stage of the World Cup, defeating Thailand, 13-0. They continued to trounce their competitors throughout the games in France.
The win comes after a season that was marked by increasing visibility of LGBTQ athletes, controversy, calls for equal pay, and public battles against President Donald Trump.
In June, Rapinoe said in a recorded interview that she would decline to visit the White House if invited by Trump. In a video clip shared on social media, Rapinoe told a reporter, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House.”
She added that Trump doesn’t invite teams he knows will decline or “like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place.”
Trump later responded in a series of tweets, saying he would invite the women’s team win or lose, but adding a rebuke for Rapinoe.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump wrote.
Rapinoe later accepted a Twitter invitation from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to visit the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It may not be the White House, but we’d be happy to welcome @mPinoe & the entire #USWMNT for a tour of the House of Representatives anytime they’d like,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Two hours later, Rapinoe replied to the tweet, accepting the invitation.
The U.S. women’s team not only stirred up drama off the field, but also on it. The high-scoring game against Thailand led some to criticize how they ran up the score and appeared arrogant by celebrating too much.
Then, forward Alex Morgan garnered backlash after she celebrated a game-winning goal against England in the semifinals with a gesture as if she were sipping from a tea cup. Some said the USWNT had become too pompous, but others, including British actress Sophie Turner, praised the athlete.
“I’m really f—ing proud of you, Alex Morgan. Congratulations on your win. And that’s the motherf—ing tea,” Turner said in an Instagram story.
Although they’ve won on the soccer field, the USWNT are still fighting for a victory over their pay back home. Prior to the World Cup, the U.S. women’s team filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of engaging in “institutionalized gender discrimination” reflected in differences in pay, medical care, travel arrangements and overall workload for the men’s and women’s teams.
The federation has declined to comment on pending litigation, but said that any pay disparity is “based on differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”
A top U.S. immigration official said Sunday he’s confident that the Trump administration will add the citizenship question to the 2020 census after their effort to do so was shot down by the Supreme Court.
“I do think so,” Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services office, told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think the president has expressed determination. He’s noted that the Supreme Court didn’t say this can’t be asked. They said they didn’t appreciate the process by which it came forward the first time.”
“The president is determined to fix that and to have it roll forward in the 2020 census,” he continued.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, said it was of paramount importance to move forward with the census without another effort at including the controversial citizenship question.
“I think we can’t wait, we need to make sure we accurately count everybody,” Hurd said. “An accurate count is important for cities, for counties. It’s important for resources. … We don’t want there to be a miscount, for sure. Everybody needs to be counted.”
“The Supreme Court has ruled,” Hurd added. “Let’s move forward, we shouldn’t stall the census.”
President Donald Trump made clear last week that he isn’t abandoning efforts at having the question included in the 2020 census even after the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, went against the administration’s effort. On Friday, he said he was looking at issuing an executive order to add the question.
“We’re thinking about doing that, we have four or five ways we can do it, it’s one of the ways we’re thinking about doing it very seriously,” Trump said when asked about using an executive order to add the question.
“We can start the printing (of the census forms) now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision, so we’re working on a lot of things, including an executive order,” he added.
In that Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in saying the government has the right to ask a citizenship question but must properly justify doing so, which would changes the Census Bureau’s longstanding practice. The court ruled late last month that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did not provide an honest reason for why the question was necessary and barred the government from using that rationale as the basis for the question’s inclusion.
The ruling left room for Ross to offer a new reason. But on Tuesday, Ross seemed to concede the effort, saying the Census Bureau “has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.”
Opponents have said the question is an effort to reduce the number of responses in immigrant communities.
Also on Friday, a federal judge ordered that a case on the citizenship question more forward. That case, U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel in Maryland said, will focus on if the Trump administration’s effort was “steeped in discriminatory motive.”
LONDON — The U.K.’s top diplomat in the U.S. reportedly views President Donald Trump as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” according to leaked diplomatic cables.
Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to Washington, D.C., made the highly critical comments about the president and his administration in a series of memos to London, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
NBC News has not seen or verified the existence of the cables.
If true, the leaks provide a rare insight into how a key U.S. ally views the Trump administration behind closed doors.
The memos were reportedly critical of Trump’s economic policies, claiming they could wreck the world trade system, described conflicts within the White House as “knife fights” and warned “the worst cannot be ruled out” in regard to allegations of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” Darroch wrote in one of a series of leaked documents covering the period from 2017 to the present.
NBC News has reached out to the White House and U.K. ambassador’s office for comment.
The U.K. foreign office defended Darroch in a statement, saying that ambassadors are allowed to be candid about their views.
“The British public would expect our Ambassadors to provide Ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” the statement said, adding an ambassador’s perspective is not representative of the views of the government.
The statement did not deny the veracity of the leak, instead condemning the apparent breach of protocol.
“It’s important that our Ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential,” the statement said.
“Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behaviour.”
HONG KONG — Thousands of protesters dressed in black on Sunday flooded Hong Kong’s streets and surrounded a train station connecting the island to mainland China as part of an escalating movement to preserve the territory’s independence.
Demonstrations kicked off last month in opposition to a proposed extradition bill that would allow for suspects to be sent to the mainland to face trial, but have since expanded into a broader repudiation of Beijing’s growing influence.
The movement has sparked some of the largest demonstrations in the city’s history, with as many as 2 million of Hong Kong’s 7 million residents taking to the streets.
“This is about the future of Hong Kong,” protester Andy Chiu, 52, told NBC News Sunday.
“It is our right to protest, to express what we want,” said Chiu, who had brought his son along with him. “We need to preserve it, and let the younger generations to know that this is their right, and this shall not be taken away from them in the future.”
Sunday’s march was the first significant demonstration since protests turned violent last Monday.
The march began on the harborfront promenade adjacent to museums and Hong Kong’s walk of fame, where a moment of silence was held to acknowledge those who have suffered injuries throughout the campaign.
Chanting slogans and words of encouragement to their fellow citizens, demonstrators then headed west through a popular shopping destination dotted with luxury shops and toward a major rail hub where visitors from mainland China arrive.
That marked a change from previous routes.
Organizers said Sunday’s aims were to reiterate the protesters’ demands to the government and to give mainland visitors a firsthand look at their movement.
Lau Wing-hong, one of the organizers, said the rally would be peaceful.
“It is hoped that Hong Kong people can spread how Hong Kong people can march peacefully and bring the protest information back to the mainland to mainland visitors,” Lau told Reuters.
On Monday protesters smashed their way into the city’s Legislative Council building, defacing the territory’s emblem while installing a colonial flag featuring Great Britain’s Union Jack in the upper-left-hand corner.
They were fought back by riot police who fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
The incident was condemned by Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam, who said the rule of law must be upheld.
Protesters have focused much of their ire on Lam, calling for her to step down even after she relented and suspended the proposed extradition bill indefinitely.
Protesters have said the bill would threaten the former British colony’s semi-autonomous rule and have demanded it be scrapped permanently.
Hong Kong was allowed to maintain its own legal system for 50 years after being returned to China in 1997.
Unlike those in the mainland, Hong Kong residents can freely surf the internet and participate in public protests.
They have spent the last month exercising that right.
In addition to scrapping the bill, demonstrators are now demanding that authorities retract the description of the movement as a riot, drop all charges against protesters, investigate alleged abuses of power by the police force and replace the governing Legislative Council with a more democratic body.
The demonstrations aren’t only fueling tensions between China and Hong Kong, but also with Britain.
Beijing has accused the U.K. of bolstering the protests by supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to London, said last week that Britain was still acting as Hong Kong’s colonial master and must take its “hands off” the territory and “show some respect.”
Veta Chan reported from Hong Kong and Linda Givetash reported from London.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed.
Billionaire convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested Saturday in connection with federal sex trafficking allegations, law enforcement officials said.
The arrest stems from incidents spanning from 2002 to 2005, three law enforcement officials said.
Epstein, 66, of Palm Beach, Florida, had flown from Paris to New York when he was arrested in Teterboro, New Jersey, the officials said. The arrest was part of a joint NYPD and FBI investigation.
The New York Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI declined to comment.
The Epstein case was led by SDNY’s Public Corruption Unit, working with the sex crimes division, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Three senior law enforcement officials confirm that Jeffrey Epstein was in custody at Teterboro airport in New Jersey earlier today after flying into the U.S. on an overseas flight.
Separately, a senior law enforcement official briefed on the case says that Epstein is expected to face two federal charges for “dozens” of victims.
The official says, Epstein allegedly paid minors cash for massages and then sex acts. He would then allegedly pay those alleged victims even more money to bring him their friends/others who he would also allegedly pay for acts.
The official says that some victims are as young as 14 years old.
These acts allegedly occurred at his Upper East Side and Palm Beach, Florida homes.
Multiple people briefed on the matter say that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s public corruption unit is prosecuting the case.
The Daily Beast first reported the hedge fund manager’s arrest.
Epstein came under renewed scrutiny after his lawyer made a secret deal with prosecutors in 2008 that allowed him to plead guilty to lesser charges after federal authorities pursued him for allegedly having sex with multiple underage victims.
Epstein, who was friends with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, wound up pleading guilty in 2008 to state charges of soliciting a single underage victim after federal prosecutors agreed to shelve their case and not prosecute him or his enablers.
Former Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, helped to put the deal together. In the face of intense criticism, Acosta has defended the plea deal as appropriate under the circumstances, The Associated Press reported.
Acosta’s office also agreed not to tell the victims about the nonprosecution agreement.
In February U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra said in a 33-three page ruling that prosecutors violated the victims’ rights by not informing them of the deal.
Dennis Romero contributed.
SUMTER, S.C. — Joe Biden on Saturday offered a sweeping defense of his decades-long public record after weeks of direct criticism from his Democratic rivals, while also expressing regret for the first time for recent comments highlighting work with segregationists in the Senate.
In remarks to a heavily African American audience here, Biden at times offered an apology, an explanation or in some cases a determined defense for past policy positions and comments, primarily on issues of race but also bankruptcy legislation and the 2002 Iraq war authorization. Acknowledging the increased willingness of his rivals to target his record, Biden responded with what he presented as the ultimate validation of his career: Barack Obama’s selection of him as his vice president.
“I will take his judgment of my record, my character, and my ability to handle the job over anyone else’s,” Biden said to applause.
Biden told the audience that he first entered public service motivated by the civil rights movement and a desire to shift the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction. He then took that fight into the Senate, he said, where he had no choice but to work alongside individuals whose views he found “repugnant” and “offensive.” He fought those lawmakers on civil rights “and won,” he said.
But then he acknowledged the “misstep” weeks ago at a Democratic fundraiser when he noted he had to work alongside segregationists when he first joined the Senate, but did so with “civility.”
“Now was I wrong a few weeks ago, to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed, time and again? Yes, I was,” he said. “I regret it and I am sorry for any of the pain or misconception that may have caused anybody.”
“But, should that misstep define 50 years of my record for fighting for civil rights and racial justice in this country? I hope not. I don’t think so,” he added. “That just isn’t an honest assessment of my record. I’m going to let my record and my character stand for itself and not be distorted or smeared.”
The former vice president was already on the defensive for his segregationists’ comments when Sen. Kamala Harris of California seized on them in the first Democratic presidential debate to ask Biden why he had joined some of those same lawmakers to fight against busing as a means to integrate segregated school systems.
The ensuing back-and-forth has shadowed Biden, particularly this week as both he and Harris campaigned in Iowa. The choice now of South Carolina as the place to try and put the issue to rest — and to do so by invoking Obama’s name so explicitly — was notable in a state where African American voters will likely make up a majority of the voters in next February’s first-in-the-South primary.
A CBS News-YouGov poll of South Carolina voters conducted in mid-June showed that Biden’s service as Obama’s vice president was the number one reason why voters said they were considering him in the primary. Biden led the field in that survey with 45 percent.
Ian Sams, national press secretary for the Harris campaign, offered a preemptive rebuttal of Biden’s remarks on Twitter.
“Every candidate’s record will (and should) be scrutinized in this race. It’s a competition to become President of the United States. There are no free passes,” he wrote.
But Biden went beyond his record on race. He said he was not “beholden to big banks,” referring to his support for a bankruptcy bill more than a decade ago. He saw legislation that was en route to passage and fought to improve it, he said, adding that no one could doubt his advocacy for the middle class.
And he noted his vote to give President George W. Bush authorization for the war in Iraq, but highlighted his work in the Obama administration to bring U.S. forces home, “including my son.”
The infighting among Democrats – especially directed at him – was counterproductive, Biden suggested, when the focus should be on defeating President Trump.
“Many who want this campaign to be about my past. I get it. That’s the game. But this isn’t a game. Everyone of you, no matter who you’re for, know in your bones that this election is different,” he said.
Biden has not been shy about highlighting his connection to Obama throughout his campaign so far, often referring to him in speeches as his “buddy” and highlighting their partnership in some of the administration’s biggest policy fights, especially the Affordable Care Act.
Days after announcing his candidacy, Biden’s campaign released a video that included Obama’s effusive praise for Biden as he awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the final days of his White House tenure.
Obama has not endorsed Biden in the primary, though a spokesperson issued a statement praising him when he entered the race — something they had not done for any other candidate. The statement also made clear Obama’s preference not to put his thumb on the scale in the primary.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake that jolted Southern California on the Fourth of July and which could be felt from the Pacific Coast to Las Vegas was the area’s biggest temblor in two decades. But it turned out be just a precursor to an even bigger one, a 7.1-magnitude quake that struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday night.
Since then, parts of California have had on average one aftershock per minute, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.
“Every earthquake makes another earthquake more likely,” Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab, told NBC Los Angeles on Friday. “Yesterday’s 6.4 is now a foreshock, and that 7.1 aftershock has become the main shock.”
The two temblors are the strongest since 1999 and come after a relatively calm stretch of seismic activity in the region. But the faults involved in these quakes were far from the San Andreas, which was the subject of a Hollywood doomsday blockbuster.
Seismologists said after the Thursday quake that its occurrence didn’t move the needle with respect to the “Big One” — shorthand for an earthquake of at least a 7.8 magnitude that would strike along the southern San Andreas Fault, which slices through California like a scar.
“This earthquake does not make the ‘Big One’ any more likely or any less likely,” Jones said at a news conference Thursday.
Still, scenes of people taking cover, objects tumbling off shelves and walls, and roadways cracked have punctuated fears that at any moment, the “Big One” could strike.
Seismologists say the “Big One” would be 125 times stronger than Thursday’s earthquake and 44 times stronger than the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which killed 57 people and caused $49 billion in economic losses.
In a tweet prior to Thursday’s earthquake, Jones said the “real probability” of a monster event is about 2 percent per year or 1/20,000th each day.
It remains difficult for scientists to predict when a massive earthquake could hit, but models have indicated that there is a “small chance” that one the size of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, of a 7.9 magnitude, could happen in the next 30 years, according to the Geological Survey.
Both earthquakes on Thursday and Friday were the strongest in the region since a 7.1 temblor hit in October 1999, about 32 miles north of the desert community of Joshua Tree.
According to Jones, “there’s about a 1 in 10 chance” that Searles Valley, the epicenter of both earthquakes this week, would soon see another 7-magnitude quake and a “9 in 10 chance” that Friday’s 7.1-magnitude quake was the largest.
People felt the ground rumble on Friday in areas from Sacramento in the north, Las Vegas in the east and Mexico in the south.The quake was felt over a wide area because it was shallow, the Southern California Earthquake Center said.
The epicenter of both shocks was about 10 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, a city of roughly 27,600 people located about 115 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The temblor cracked buildings, set off some gas leakes, wrecked some roads and caused a power outage.
Ridgecrest Police Department Captain Justin Dampier told the Today show on Saturday that “a lot of gas leaks” were initially reported after Friday’s earthquake, but authorities were able to handle those “fairly quickly.”
Dampier said people in the area could expect the power to come back on Saturday, but warned that “when the power comes on, if we have some broken wires, or lamps that are broken but they are still on,” they can cause fires in some homes.
Only minor injuries such as cuts and bruises had been reported as of Saturday afternoon.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge Friday ordered that a case go forward on whether a citizenship question can be added to the 2020 census and said it will focus on whether the Trump administration was “steeped in discriminatory motive.”
U.S. District Court Judge George Hazel’s order could allow evidence from recently deceased Republican consultant Thomas Hoeffler to be introduced. Files discovered by his daughter showed that he played a key role in the administration’s decision to try to add the question and that it would aid GOP efforts to radically gerrymander legislative districts to the disadvantage of Democrats.
Hazel noted that the claims of those against adding the question “are based on the premise that the genesis of the citizenship question was steeped in discriminatory motive. The discovery contemplated by the Court related to the recently discovered evidence in this case goes directly to that issue.”
The judge issued his order shortly after the administration notified him that government lawyers are looking at “all available options” for adding the question to the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household.
The notice, in a brief document filed in federal court in Maryland, was expected, given President Donald Trump’s comments early Friday that he has not given up on the idea and might issue an executive order directing the Commerce Department to add the question.
“We have four or five ways we can do it. It’s one of the ways and we’re thinking about doing it very seriously,” Trump said before leaving Washington for a weekend at his golf club in New Jersey.
The Supreme Court ruled late last month that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did not provide an honest reason for why he wanted to include the question. The court accordingly barred the government from using that reason to add the question to the form. That left open the possibility that Ross could offer a new reason, but government lawyers did not view that option as a promising one.
On Tuesday, Ross seemed to concede the point. “The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question,” he said.
But Trump told administration lawyers to find some way to get the question on the census form.
In the notice filed Friday, Justice Department lawyers said they “have been asked to re-evaluate all available options” following the Supreme Court ruling to “allow for a new decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census.”
If the Commerce Department does come up with a new rationale, the groups that have opposed the question and who have prevailed in court so far “will be fully entitled to challenge the decision at that time,” the government’s court filing said.
Anything the administration does from here on, whether by stating a new reason for including the question or acting through executive order, will produce a new round of lawsuits, putting added pressure on the government to get all the forms printed in time.
For now, the Justice Department assured the Maryland judge, “the Department of Commerce and Census Bureau currently are enjoining from printing a census questionnaire that includes a citizenship question.”
Three New York City police officers were called to a Whole Foods on Thursday after a woman was accused of shoplifting. Instead of arresting her, they paid for the food she had stashed her bag.
Paul Bozymowski, a film and TV director who was at the store, tweeted a photo of the woman with her hands and a tissue over her face as she and the officers stood near the exit at the Whole Foods in Union Square.
“This woman was being held by security. She had food in her bag she didn’t pay for. When the NYPD showed up, they paid for her food,” Bozymowski wrote.
The police force’s chief of department, Terence Monahan, retweeted Bozymowski’s photo, saying the three officers are part of the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, and “are the kind-hearted cops who quietly do good deeds for New Yorkers in need.”
He thanked Bozymowski for sharing the show of care and “highlighting the often unnoticed.”
“It was very moving to see such a genuine act of kindness,” Bozymowski told NBC News. “My hope is that the moment inspires others to be generous and kind as well.”
The new Little Mermaid, Halle Bailey, is Disneys second Black princess. Her casting is real magic to some girls.
In 1997, millions of Black girls watched in awe as actress and singer Brandy Norwood was transformed into the iconic princess, Cinderella, in the television movie version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic musical. Delivering outstanding vocals, Norwood (and a diverse cast that included Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother and Filipino-American actor Paolo Montalbán as Prince Christopher) gave millions of kids (and adults) the chance to see themselves reflected in a fairy tale for the first time.
Now, more than 20 years later, and 10 years after adding its first and only Black princess to its roster, Disney is about to do it again.
Disney announced on Wednesday that they had cast 19-year-old singer and actor Halle Bailey as Ariel in their forthcoming live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.” The animated feature, released in 1989, is still one of Disney’s most beloved films and features a rebellious mermaid who is desperate to escape her constrained life under the sea to live above water with humans.
In the live-action “Little Mermaid,” Bailey will join rapper/actress Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay. The “Crazy Rich Asians” actress is slated to voice Scuttle the seagull, a role voiced by a male actor in the past, and Tremblay will voice Flounder, Ariel’s pet fish and bestie. Melissa McCarthy is reportedly in talks to portray the villainous Ursula the Sea Witch in the movie.
It’s shocking to say, but Bailey portraying Ariel is groundbreaking for Disney, which has been clutching on to 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog” as its sole representation of Blackness in its official Princess Line. This marks the first time the studio has chosen a woman of color in a part that has been traditionally portrayed by a white woman.
In addition to having a brown-skinned Black woman as the face of Ariel, Bailey’s casting shatters stereotypes about Black hair, the myths about Black people and swimming — a product of segregated swimming pools — as well as narratives about the desirability of Black women as love interests.
Bailey usually wears her hair in locs, rather than naturally curly or straightened to look more like white hair, also opening the dialogue for a discussion about Black hair. Locs or dreadlocks have a history stretching back to ancient Egyptian times. The locs — or rope-like strands of hair — are formed when afro-textured hair is coiled or matted together. Celebrities such as Bob Marley, Whoopi Goldberg and Ava DuVernay have made the style more mainstream. However, even today, locs are still seen as unprofessional in school settings and in the workplace; California this week became the first state to ban rules that discriminate against Black people who chose to wear their hair in its natural state or in styles that compliment our hair textures, like locs.
Back in 2015, the long-running E! series “Fashion Police” was forced to revamp after host Giuliana Rancic rudely commented on Zendaya’s Oscars red carpet hair which was styled in locs; Rancic stated that her hair looked like it, “smells like patchouli oil or weed.” Her comments, of course, aren’t uncommon for Black people who wear their hair natural or in traditional styles to hear; the fact that, in 2019, states have to pass laws allowing us to work with our natural hair is evidence enough. Bailey’s hair, and how they choose to utilize her style while playing Ariel, will bring this discussion further into the mainstream.
Her casting also brings an end to Disney’s “Same Face Syndrome,” a term coined in 2015 by Tumblr user Every Flavored Beaned in a post calling out the studio for using the same face for all of its female characters for the past decade. Princesses like Anna from “Frozen” and Rapunzel from “Tangled” all have round cheeks, giant round eyes, and tiny button noses, a glorification of European features and an impossible standard. (Back in 1989, the animated Ariel’s face shape and features were reportedly based on a teenaged Alyssa Milano, albeit exaggeratedly.) Bailey, with her high cheekbones, brown skin and bright brown eyes, shatters this mold entirely.
Of course, in the midst of all of the joy and delight surrounding Bailey’s casting, the racist trolls are out in full force. They even have a hashtag, #NotMyAriel, where they gleefully showcase their bigotry. To try and suggest that a mythical creature has an assigned race is beyond preposterous, but it’s also to be expected by those who have grown up with a constant parade of lily-white faces in their films and on their television screens that they’ve been able to look toward for validation.
When the animated film “The Little Mermaid” first debuted, it elevated Disney back to Hollywood’s A-list after a slew of lackluster Disney flicks in the 70s. “[It’s] a movie that’s so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past,” Roger Ebert said in his review. Now, in Disney’s new era of live-action films like “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” there was much talk and anticipation when the studio announced in 2016, that they would be taking us under the sea into Ariel’s world — but no one could have anticipated Bailey’s casting.
For years, though, there were rumors that “Euphoria” actress Zendaya, a mixed raced Black woman who has advocated for darker-skinned faces in film and on TV, would slide into Ariel’s fin. (Zendaya, for her part, was thrilled when Hailey’s casting as announced;, she retweeted Variety’s announcement saying, “Yeeeeessss!! Here for thiiiissss!! @chloexhalle.”)
But, though Hollywood has touted the words “diversity” and “inclusion” — after writer April Reign coined #OscarsSoWhite in 2015 — colorism still runs rampant. Profoundly talented, actresses like Yara Shahidi, Amandla Stenberg, and Alexandra Shipp have been cast in roles in films like “The Hate U Give,” “The Sun Is Also A Star” and “Dark Phoenix,” but those were roles that had originally been written for women with much darker skin. The door is widening in Hollywood for women of color, but darker skinned women are being shoved to the side in favor of those with more European features and pale complexions.
Disney casting Bailey comes at a time when Hollywood is attempting to move forward in fits and starts at best, while the country as a whole — with it’s conservative government and overwhelming laws that continue to disenfranchise Black and brown bodies — seems to be sliding back into a more repressive era. Bailey earning the role is a bold and refreshing statement that will hopefully set a precedent for the entertainment industry as a whole as we press forward into the 21st century.
And, thankfully the excitement around her casting has outweighed the racist criticism of it. More than anything, Halle Bailey’s dream role shows just how far we’ve come as a society, and how far we must go. It’s going to be a magical experience to see her bring a flesh-and-blood Ariel to the screen for Black women who grew up with the red-headed animated Ariel, and for young girls today across different cultures and races. Bailey’s casting means that there is an opportunity for every story to be told, and for every walk of life to be represented in Hollywood. Let’s just hope that in another 20 years we are no longer calling news like this revolutionary.