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The fro seen ’round the net

Winx Club is racist.

That’s the latest charge against the show. It stems from a scene in “Miss Magix” (1X12), where a dark-skinned girl has a meltdown over her hairdo, which looks like a normal afro. A writer for a blog about black natural hair called it “a clear-cut case of racism and ignorance” and “yet another attempt to impress upon little Black girls that their natural beauty is a ‘catastrophe.'” (Full post here.)

Good grief.

I’m not gonna try to defend this scene. It’s been done already, and the critics aren’t listening. No matter what we say, the problem’s still the same: this looks like an afro.

But I don’t agree the scene is racist. Calling it that implies the insult was intentional, and we don’t know that for sure. The blogger claims she does, but was she at Rainbow when they wrote the script? No. Neither were we.

All she knows is she’s offended. She’ll never know if this was meant to be offensive. She’s just guessing and reacting like we are. The difference is we know enough about Winx to give Rainbow the benefit of the doubt. She barely knows anything about it. (Did you see version one of her post? She really skimped on the research. Screenshots below.)

Now her readers think the whole show’s racist. Some have said they’ll never let their kids watch it. One even slammed the fans who defended it, saying they have “no concept of right and wrong.” Wow.

Those readers and that blogger don’t know what they’re missing. In reality, Winx Club is one of the least racist, most diverse, and most progressive cartoons on TV.

Layla_2-1-MEET PRINCESS AISHA

Disney introduced Tiana, their first black princess, in 2009. Rainbow added Aisha to the club in 2005. You’re late, Mickey.

Aisha’s not a slave fighting for freedom or a poverty-stricken girl trying to “better” herself. She’s a princess — always has been, always will be. Well, actually, one day she’ll be queen.

It’s an archetype we rarely see on American screens: a black person with status, and a woman at that. We’re used to watching slaves, maids, low-income families, gang members, drug dealers — characters that seem to lock us in the past and suggest all black people are the same. Even Disney couldn’t shake it off. Tiana was originally gonna be a chambermaid named Maddy. (The black community cried foul because the name sounds like “Mammy,” a Southern term for an old slave nanny.)

Winx Club never went there. Aisha’s no different than the other Winx girls. She’s strong (physically and magically), she’s courageous, and she’s respected.

And she’s beautiful. We know that was intentional, since Rainbow even named her “dark beauty.” That’s what her alternate name, Layla, means.

Since this started over hair, look at some of her many hairdos:

Of course, as India Arie might say, Aisha’s not her hair. It’s her strong, independent spirit we love about her.

LOVE IS COLOR BLIND

Let’s play a game. Name as many cartoons as you can that have interracial couples. And…go!

Did I stump you? Even I can’t think of many. If I had said “American cartoons,” it would have been even harder. That’s because America doesn’t accept interracial love yet.

Just two years ago, Cheerios featured a mixed race family in a commercial called “Just Checking.” The response on YouTube was ugly. Some people called the family “disgusting.” Others hurled racial slurs at them. Still others mocked the black father, saying he’ll leave in a few years. Cheerios eventually closed comments on the video, but the hate spread to their Facebook page and social media sites like Reddit. (Read more about it here.)

Those trolls could learn from this little Italian show. It’s had an interracial couple since season two: Flora and Helia. Flora looks Hispanic, and Helia looks Asian.

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That same season, it flirted with mixed race love when Aisha was introduced. During the Pixie rescue mission, Sky pulls Aisha off a wall…and into his arms. Bloom’s not too happy about it. Aisha has to reassure her she’s not gonna steal her boyfriend.

You know Bloom, though. No one comes between her and her prince. She keeps trying to keep them apart as the mission goes on.

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The episode before that, “Mr. Casanova” Brandon calls Aisha “cutie.”

Fast forward to season six. After dating two dark-skinned guys (and almost marrying one of them), Aisha meets Nex. He develops a crush on her and starts trying to woo her away from her boyfriend Roy.

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Here are two more examples. One is another mixed race couple. The other is a white boy with a black woman who definitely seems to be his mom. They’re always seen together, sometimes holding hands, and she’s very affectionate towards him. And look! She’s wearing an afro!

Why is there so much interracial love in this show? (Other than the fact that this is 2015.) Maybe it’s because the creator, Iginio Straffi, is in a mixed race marriage himself. His wife and business partner, Joanne Lee, is Asian (birth place: Singapore).

A COLORFUL WORLD

Have you noticed I’ve tried not to call the characters “black,” “white,” “Hispanic,” etc.? That’s because most of them aren’t. Winx Club takes place in an alien universe, so race as we think of it doesn’t apply. Aisha looks Afro-European, Flora looks Hispanic, and Musa looks Asian, but they’re not since none of them are from Earth.

The truth is the show never brings up race at all. It treats all people and all skin tones as equal. It doesn’t even limit each race to one species, realm, or profession. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern-looking characters are fairies, witches, wizards, mermaids, warriors, kings, queens, princes, princesses, villains, and heroes.

A world where anyone of any color can be anything. Even if it’s fictional, wouldn’t you want your kids to see it?

WINX CLUB IS NOT RACIST

I don’t know if I’m mad or sad about this controversy. On the one hand, I’m sick of people bashing Winx Club when they’ve barely watched any of it. This whole thing started over one minute of a 4,000+ minute series (not counting the movies). It’s crazy.

On the other hand, I’m sad for the kids of Black Girl Long Hair’s readers. Thank to one misguided blogger, many of them will never experience all the good things in this show.

We can’t stop people from getting offended by things. We’ve all done it. All we can do is tell them the truth and hope someone will listen.

So I hope they read this post and decide to give Winx a second chance.

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41 Responses to “My Response to “Afrogate”: Winx Club is NOT Racist

  1. I for one and getting sick and tired of this racist and prejudice foolishness! I know for a dang fact that Winx Club’s not racist! And anyone scumbag even thinks that kind of stuff I am going to scream! I have the right mind to go on those blogs and tell those people off! If you ask me, this is all just immature foolishness. What are these people? THREE YEAR OLDS?!?! And if I heard anyone tell me that I have no concept of right or wrong or throw a racial slur at me for defending them, I am going to knock their dang teeth out! What kind of immature brats are they? It makes me sick!
    Please excus my choice of words, I just had to get that out. So, I apologies for my rant, it’s my first one.

    • Personaly. They NEED their tails paddled and sent to bed WITHOUT supper like the babies they are!

      • Thank you. In my opinion anybody that tries to throw a racial slur is nothing but an immature bully. I can’t wait to tell that blogger off and given him or her a spanking. They want to act like three year olds, then we should treat them like three year olds.

        • I don’t think they threw any racial slurs — at least I didn’t see any. They were just very hostile toward away who defended the scene. Their feelings are hurt, and I accept that, but they went too far in some of the things they said, like the “no concept of right and wrong” thing.

          • You”re right about the slurs, but I was actually talking about the interracial couples on that part. I saw something like that on Investigation Discovery on an episode of Fear Thy Neighbor. But that “no concept of right and wrong thing” sounded way to immature. It sounded like they were actingn like 3 year olds when they said that.

  2. *applause* Very nice post, and good roundup of the many different skin colors in Winx.

    I wouldn’t say Winx is perfect of course; I’d be happy to see yet more background of various colors, and if I had a time machine I’d go back and suggest they make Roxy dark-skinned to make Aisha look less like the “token black girl.” And of course Winx does have a few what-were-you-thinking-writers moments like the afro and some fat comments when Stella transforms into a monster in season 3. But while they do make some mistakes, you’re right that the writers of Winx mostly just don’t seem to make skin color a big thing. Which is really awesome.

  3. Awesome article. Very thorough and well-written, bravo!

    I always thought the afro scene was done in poor taste, the cut to change the contestant’s hair issues into a squeaky voice was bizarre, but it’s one of the few [very few] edits by 4Kids that I actually stand by. –– I realize that the hair was supposed to look like a jelly blob of sorts [for those who haven’t seen the original scene, Bloom touches the girls hair and it bounces and makes a ‘splooshy’ noise before she runs off] but putting it on a black character was a risk to begin with, simply for the way it looks and how they’re treating the aesthetic. Was it racist? No, I think not. As you pointed out, people of color have had TONS of positive and open representation in Winx Club right from the beginning.

    Personally, I wouldn’t let this person’s ignorance –– or, that of who agree with her get to you. The real problem this poses is the article and others like it, that are poorly researched, biased, and based on far more opinion than fact, being dug up by some concerned parent who’s bound to exacerbate the issue with no further investigation. [Remember all the complaints coming in from all sides about the girls promoting eating disorders because of their designs? “Skinnygate” anyone?] *sigh* It honestly seems like everyone is out to get their 15 minutes of online fame from any desperate source, nowadays…

  4. So true. I shook my head in shame and disappointment after reading that silly blog. You know what? I’m going to link this article of yours to my WITCHandWinxClub group on Deviantart so that more Winx Club fans (and our other watchers) will know how culturally diverse Winx Club is.

  5. OH FOR THE LOVE OF THE BLESSED MOTHER! GIVE ME A BREAK! That RUDDY SCHMUCK is just trying to (And DOING A BLOODY WELL GOOD JOB OF IT!) cook up a pile of trouble!

    We have enough trouble going on in the world WITHOUT a FOOL MAKING MORE!

  6. Thank you unadinoi for writing this article. its so frustrating to see that article. I actually wrote a length comment on that site, hoping to communicate some level of understanding, but it fell on deaf ears. I think some people are so used to seeing the negatives of this world that anything positive that they do encounter, seems too good to be true, or in the case of that article, is taken the wrong way. I pity people like that. I had seen a similar article about a year and half ago, but it was so stupid even then i did take it seriously and now again its back again. I just hope that those parents realize the goodness that this show has and the impact that this show has had on many girls around the world. To anyone out there who thinks this show is bad, fine, but dont discourage others from watching. give people the opportunity to make their own minds about how they feel about the show. Yeah…this is pretty sad. But it is what it is…sigh

  7. This is helpful for context but doesn’t excuse the episode. No matter how small the minutes are compared to the rest of the series, the damage to a little girls self esteem from can be very harmful. It’s almost more damaging that the show does seem so progressive and forward thinking… I’m sure it makes kids feel like they can trust it, gain strength from it. Then this happens and an innocent young girl could think we’ll then there must really be something wrong with my hair if winx said it.
    Hair is a very big deal in the black community. Our skin colors vary so much within the race, but hair is that one thing that is usually the indicator of difference. Innocently the little white girls at school will ask you why your hair looks like that and you’ll go home and cry because you just want to blend in. The fact that black women for years have burned scars into their scalps once a month with chemical we know little about other then that it can eat through a soda can…shows how deep and sad this history is of feeling like something is wrong with our natural hair.
    I also reject that you have to prove intent before deeming an action or statement racist. In fact most of the micro-aggression that we face on a daily basis is unintentional. And if we don’t call it out as racist/racially insensitive then we’re just going to end up suffering in silence.

    • As you saw from the article, I didn’t try to excuse the episode. The reason I focused on the context instead is because I wanted to show this scene may have been accidentally offensive, not intentional. It’s because of the context that I believe that.

      Also, I didn’t say it in the post, but I am black. I’ve also had natural hair all my life.

      I know what a big deal hair is in our community. I was teased in school, too, but not by whites — but by other black students. They’d tell me I needed a perm or refuse to spend time with me unless I wore my hair better. And they did this publicly. Once, I wore braided extensions to school, and they drew a caricature of me on the whiteboard with a caption that said, “This isn’t my real hair.” When the teacher reprimanded them, they lied and said the drawing wasn’t of me.

      I was constantly told in my real life that my hair wasn’t good enough. But never once have I felt like Winx Club has been sending me that message. Not even when I saw this scene.

      Also, I’m not saying you have to prove everything is intentional before you call it racist. But having context allows you to properly judge the situation. I do this all the time in my own life: “What is the circumstance here? Do I have any other evidence this person may be racist? What is their background? Am I taking their words/actions out of context?”

      If I can’t know for sure or other things they’ve done/said prove otherwise, I give the person the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes (I’d say often even), people say and do offensive things without meaning to be offensive. You can’t spend your life looking for reasons to feel offended. You have to be willing to forgive and move on.

      That’s helped me form deep, lasting relationships with people of other races.

      • bravo! I’m impressed at how eloquently you put that- and how you obviously have moved on from whatever adversity you experienced. 🙂 I’ve really loved reading all these insightful articles on this website- it really shows how Winx Club has a lot more below the surface 🙂

    • Greetings :
      I read the entire post and comments, and I want to express what I understand ; The girl who cried was the victim of an alleged by Trix spell, this spell has surprised the girl who has no idea what has happened , and when she looks at herself in the mirror he realized his new haircut hair , giving you grief because as Stella ,she combed her hair in a way that made her look more beautiful than it is and with the shock of the moment and with the shock of the moment and the environment of fashion that revolves around beauty contest ” Miss Magix ” gives a crisis of vanity and begins to mourn because it does not suit their radical change of hairstyle , so which fails to appreciate how beautiful it is , moreover, Stella asks “what’s that ?”, because from where she was it looked like a dancing muffin, and Bloom gets unsteadily because she did not wanted to make matters worse…

      I’ve seen the episode in English (version RAI and 4Kidz ) in Castilian and Latin Spanish because i don’t like to miss a detail of dubbing, furthermore , it has been forgotten that there are also blue and purple people in the contest “Miss Magix “.

      best regards from a Hispanic-American Winx Fan who wants to stay anonymous

  8. As a black girl with a fro I was really disappointed with that blog. I have never needed Winx or any other show to tell me how beautiful I am or how awesome my hair is. I can even go so far as to say I have been natural all my life when not many black people can even say that. I think that racial sensitivity is creating a lot of negativity (no pun intended) and rather than influencing equality, I feel there is an even greater divide. I have no need to acknowledge someones race but their character and to me that’s what Winx does. It’s all about the girls and their need to be good and brave fairies who are kind and help others. If we as black people have to pull the race card for every little instance, then I’m sorry but to me that makes us slaves to our own prejudices. Bob Marley had it right. It’s time black people emancipated.

    • I agree. As I told NewYorkGirl, I’m also black and have natural hair. Sometimes, I feel like our community wants to be offended instead of wanting to move forward. Improving race relations isn’t something only the white people need to do. We all have to do it, and we need to be willing to acknowledge each other’s efforts. If we keep looking for reasons to be offended, we’ll stay locked in the past.

      I’m sure if Rainbow knew about the problems this scene caused, they’d be willing to apologize. But I’d bet even then, some of the folks at the blog wouldn’t forgive them.

  9. Good grief, it was just a bad hair day spell, like the writer’s never had a bad hairday themselves, everyone has them,including guys. There’s loads of positivity in the show, there’s an old song that my great grandmother used to sing which had the words Accentuate the positive eliminate the negative in it, which is what we need to do weed out negative things like that blog and enforce the positive.

  10. More complaints, really? Well, honestly that scene looked a bit racist, I think they should have been more careful at the moment of writing it, but Winx Club is one of the less racist shows I know, the main characters are very diverse and as you said, there are some interracial couples, god! there even seems to be some sexual diversity [there is an episode in S2 where Palladium seems to be in love with Avalon], with all this background it is hard to believe that they would offend someone intentionally.

    Sometimes I think people is just looking for reasons to “feel offended” and complain and ban things that they don’t even know enough, it is clear that the editor doesn’t know Winx Club at all, she even thought that the character in that scene was Aisha and then corrected the post when she found out that she wasn’t. She called it “a clear-cut case of racism and ignorance” but she is proving herself to be more ignorant talking that way about something she doesn’t even know enough and more racist thinking that everything is meant to offend dark-skinned people.

  11. I was actually about to use Nabu in an essay I wrote about representation of non-stereotypical black male heroes in the media. Unfortunately, I was afraid Winx wasn’t “mainstream” enough and ended up using Thresh and Rue from the Hunger Games series. I still kinda wish I could’ve brought up Nabu and Aisha, though. Because they’re well-written characters, not just because they’re one of my OTPs since childhood. xD

  12. This was bound to happen. There has been a lot of negativity regarding Winx Club and it was time to throw in the race card. As a black girl growing up in South Africa, I completely understand the concept of hating your afro and trying to change your hair. No matter how hard we try, a black womans hair is an important part of her but that was not what the episode was about. Its been taken completely out of context. What if that girl freaked out cause she never had a fro. Like you said it was only one minute of the show and people do like to sensationalise things. Winx has never been racist nd you must be an irresponsible parent if you let your childs self esteem be determined by a cartoon.

  13. Haha… You know, it’s racist to imply that only black people have afros. Therefore, it is racist to say that the afro thing in Winx was racist.

    One thing I do want to mention is that, instead of creating tons of racially mixed families, it is important to stay realistic. Take the 1997 Cinderella story that had Brandy in it–the king was white, the queen was black, and their son was Asian.
    I personally hate it when people add all sorts of different types of people to a show/story simply for the sake of it. Winx Club, however, pulled it off perfectly, and I saw nothing wrong with it because they made it completely logical. Alfea has fairies from all sorts of different worlds.

  14. “But I don’t agree the scene is racist. Calling it that implies the insult was intentional, and we don’t know that for sure.”

    Intentional or not, racism is still racism. Actually, in most cases, ordinary racism is unintentional. That’s why it’s ordinary. People are so used to it, they don’t even see the racism in their words and their behavior.

    That’s the samesame thing for this show. I agree with you when you say that this show isn’t racist in itself. But this scene was.

    Saying that this scene can’t be racist, because the show depicts a positive representation of black people in general, is like saying that what you just said can’t be racist, because you have black friends and fight for black people’s rights.

    Even I, a feminist, can have a sexist behaviour without even realise it.

    Instand of saying that black people should stop to see racism everywhere and explaining in what they’re wrong, maybe people, and especially white people, who don’t live what black people live in their daily life, should listen to them and wonder what they could do to help them in this situation.

    I’m tired of white people explaining to me what is racist ans what isn’t, or when I should feel offended ans when I shouldn’t.

    PS : I’m not talking especially about you, I know you’re black. I refer to a daily experience, and the subject of this article perfectly illustrateur this. So I took the opportunity.

    PS 2 : Sorry for my english, I’m french.

    • Saying that this scene can’t be racist, because the show depicts a positive representation of black people in general, is like saying that what you just said can’t be racist, because you have black friends and fight for black people’s rights.

      It’s not the same. The “black friends” argument is a cover-up for the person’s true feelings. They know they have some deep-seated prejudice, but they’re denying it. I’m not using the diversity in this show as a denial of wrongdoing. I’m trying to show the offense may have been accidental, instead of coming from a place of prejudice.

      You used the term “ordinary racism.” I disagree with it because it takes people’s hearts out of the equation. If someone couldn’t tell they were being racist, could we even fault them for it? Would you fault a kid for using the “N” word if they had no idea what it meant?

      Racism isn’t just about behavior or words. It’s the intent and maliciousness behind them.

      In fact, your definition of “ordinary racism” pardons Rainbow. If they didn’t understand what they were saying, then we can’t call the scene racist. Instead, we’d call it ignorant or tone-deaf.

  15. I honestly rolled my eyes when I first saw accusations that this scene racist. Of course, Winx isn’t perfect – no show is – but I honestly feel some people are too anxious to find something to get up in arms over. If this were a more recent episode, I could understand to an extent, but this episode is how eleven years old! This is akin to getting angry at homophobia in a 90s movie, and that’s if it’s even there. They had to dig this episode up to make this accusation. The girl mistakenly did something to her hair she didn’t like. Most people tend to get upset when that happens because it’s not what they wanted. If I’m trying to comb my hair down and I somehow make it look like I got in a fight with a fan, I’m going to be unhappy.

    Also – and this may be more from my own personal experiences than anything – I find the idea that one scene could crush a child’s self-esteem to be what’s truly offensive here. I believe children should be treated with sensitivity, but there’s a difference between that and treating them like fragile little dolls.

    The worst thing in this scene is Bloom touching the girl’s hair because touching someone without their permission is rude. I saw nothing offensive whatsoever about this scene – and this is also coming from the mouth (err…keyboard?) of a black person.

  16. listen people, your missing something important.

    The scene clearly shows a black girl with an afro being made out as if her hair is unappealing.

    That must stop. Period.

    Secondly all your counters that there are interracial situations in this cartoon doesn’t really day much.

    It is black peope, African people that are bearing the brunt of racist ignorance around the world. It’s their hair their skin their blackness that is constantly excluded, changed, whitened up.

    Ok you have a latina, asian, indian in the show. All nice.

    But you have one black girl and she hates her hair. What you are doing is telling black kids that if they want to be a part of this rainbow of inclusion, they must change who they are. They must be themselves.

    That is what this cartoon is doing.

    There are black asians, black indians, black Latino people. but what we see always are the lighter straight haired Caucasian looking ones.

    That must change.

    Don’t think people are too naive to confuse interracial minority with black inclusion.

    • The scene clearly shows a black girl with an afro being made out as if her hair is unappealing.

      That must stop. Period.

      You’re right. If Rainbow was insulting Afros or natural black hair in general, then it does need to stop. And it has. This is the only instance of such a thing in the show.

      But the racism police seem to be convinced this was straight up racism — the company sending a message to blacks that their hair is ugly. That’s what I don’t agree with. I have nothing else to go on but the show itself, and that’s inconsistent with the messages it portrays about black beauty. Therefore, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      Could I be wrong? Certainly. But I’d rather trust them and find out I’m wrong, then constantly doubt them and always be bitter. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a world where we’d be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. That doesn’t just apply to blacks. It applies to everyone, whites included.

      Secondly all your counters that there are interracial situations in this cartoon doesn’t really day much.

      It is black peope, African people that are bearing the brunt of racist ignorance around the world. It’s their hair their skin their blackness that is constantly excluded, changed, whitened up.

      That’s an unfair statement. Racism is not just a “white vs. black” thing. Anyone of any race can be racist or subjected to racism. So yes, the inclusion of other races and racial situations in this show is valid.

      Also, assuming you are black, do you really know what people of other minority races experience? We can only know our own experiences. We can’t truly comprehend what someone of another race is going through.

      I know Hispanics in the U.S. are constantly mocked for not speaking English, subjected to stereotyping, and looked at as illegal immigrants even if they’re not. They’re also traditionally left with menial jobs and subjected to unfair treatment in those positions. To say those struggles mean less than the struggles of blacks is rude and belittling.

      But you have one black girl and she hates her hair. What you are doing is telling black kids that if they want to be a part of this rainbow of inclusion, they must change who they are. They must be themselves.

      That is what this cartoon is doing.

      I’m gonna assume you made the same mistake the blogger made in thinking this is Aisha. It’s not. So this one dark-skinned girl who supposedly hates her hair is not even shown much in the series.

      But you took this out of context. Her hair was transformed. She hated that her hair suddenly became different than how she’d styled it.

      Second, this cartoon has never told anyone of any race they’re not good enough the way they are. That has never been the message of this show. Very much the opposite, actually.

      You’ve made a big leap from questioning one scene to the entire show. That’s not fair to the creators or to the people whose feelings you’re trying to protect.

      There are black asians, black indians, black Latino people. but what we see always are the lighter straight haired Caucasian looking ones.

      That must change.

      You wouldn’t be making this comment if you’d seen the show. While it doesn’t label specific races, it shows a wider range of skin tones than most shows do.

      Don’t think people are too naive to confuse interracial minority with black inclusion.

      No one’s confusing anything. All I’m saying is give this show credit for trying a lot harder than most shows do.

      But here’s a question: whenever you see dark-skinned characters in a show, do you always assume they were an afterthought? That the creators didn’t intend or want to have them there, but they were added just for the sake of “diversity?” If so, then you’ll never be pleased with any show you see unless the cast is mostly black (which doesn’t guarantee a lack of racism, either). You’ll always doubt the creators’ intentions, which means they can never do anything right. Nothing they do will ever be good enough.

      I can’t imagine living my life like that — constantly assuming every white person is my enemy. I know that’s not what MLK wanted. That’s why, again, I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and that’s what I’m doing with this show. If you can’t, that’s not the fault of the creators. They tried to present something different, but you rejected it.

  17. We know the show isn’t racist. It seems pretty diverse to me. But turn it around the other way. If the character had a natural afro normally, and then the spell made her hairr straight, and she starts crying and sobbing, her friends call it a catastrophe, and they poke and prod and the sound effects make it seem greasy and slimy (that’s the equivalent of the boingy sound when they touched it), how would you feel? Yes the show, is diverse, yes it’s not a racist show, but that was a pretty s****y moment. Now because it was in 2004 or so, people will let this slide cus people back then didn’t know any better. But just think about how the rest of us with natural hair feel when that sort of negative reaction is shown to having our hair. Like come on guys. This aisha character seems cool. But that doesn’t erase the fact that the scene was pretty insulting. Believe it or not, young black children watch these shows and can develop a hatred or dislike for their own hair. Well, it didn’t air on Nickelodeon so ive heard. And i doubt they would do it again.

    • If the scene were turned around — an Afro into straight hair — no one would care. It’s not the same. The black community is a lot fussier about hair than other communities — and I say that because I’m black. Plus, straight hair isn’t directly associated with any one race, so there’d be no real racism angle there.

      As for your comment about this scene being from 2004, I think that’s a key thing that’s being left out here. I don’t know for sure if Rainbow was meaning to insult natural hairstyles (although I doubt they were). But if they were, I think back then, it have been received differently by the black community. Natural hair wasn’t as popular back then.

      I’ve had natural hair all my life. When I was growing up, all the other black kids (NOT the white kids) made fun of me for it. Constantly. I was the freak who needed a perm. It didn’t stop until near the end of high school, which was even after 2004.

      Now, natural hair has made a huge comeback, and everyone’s defending it. Even one of the girls who used to make me fun of me now proudly wears natural hairstyles.

      I saw this Winx scene later in life, but I wasn’t offended by it like other people were. I didn’t see it as an insult to natural hair. I kept it in context: her hair suddenly transformed into a different style, obviously because of a spell.

      Did this scene offend some people? Of course. Was it meant to be offensive? I really don’t think so. Is the show a steaming pot of racism? Heck no. I wish people could forgive and move on, but I know they won’t because it’s too sensitive an issue.

  18. I couldn’t agree more with you’re statement.You basically said everything each winx club fan would’ve said in order to defend winx club.

  19. Great article. I’m not saying racism isn’t a problem. My god, it is in so many parts of the world, but I find that people also get so easily offended by things there days that it almost feels meaningless to argue and defend. Still, thank you for trying. I had never really thought about the meaning of race in Winx club or the fact that the realms are mixed raced, but now that you’ve pointed it out all I’m thinking is:”Hey, that’s pretty cool!” Although I suppose it makes loads of sense for them to be. Winx are from different planets. Earth has mixed races so other places must too.

  20. Intentions are irrelevant when dealing with children. Black girls are taught by society to hate themselves and how they look. To say that because they have a good track record with images entitles them a pass on this is ludicrous. Did Donald Sterling deserve not to be held accountable for his racist rant because he had a great minority track record. If anything it proves that a system controlled by a white power structure will always ultimately fail black children. The fact that you’ve made a great case for their progressiveness on issues of race only highlights the failure of integration.

    • Hi. Black woman here. Black girls are taught to hate the way they look? I must have missed class because no one ever taught me such a thing, and I grew up in a mostly white community. There will always be ignorant people in the world who don’t respect how you look, but ultimately you control how you see yourself. That’s the same regardless of your race.

      I’m not trying to justify what seems like a slight to some members of the black community. That’s why I didn’t bother to defend it. But in Donald Sterling’s case, what he said was undeniably racist. This situation is very different. If it was racially motivated, then it’s subtle to the point where you’d have to be looking for the offense. If it wasn’t racially motivated, then people are just reading into things.

      We have nothing to go on to judge it but the nature of the show itself. Of course, it’s not impossible for the writers to make a racially-offensive statement, but that seems out-of-character for them. Therefore, as a fan and as a black woman, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      As for the rest of your comment, I’m disappointed. First of all, the statement about “a white power structure” upsets me. Should we blacks turn the system on its head? Should we have the power? I don’t think that’s any better, to be honest. A perfect structure is one where we have equal power and have learned to respect one other. I support any effort, no matter how small, to promote that. There will be struggles along the way because of deep-seated prejudices (from whites and blacks), but if we can get there, it’ll have been worth it.

      Second, I know the word “progressive” sounds cheap and cliche sometimes, but the point is getting past the negative place we’re in now. When will the black community accept progress? This isn’t 1950. I know we’re still not where we should be, but if we’re constantly pointing fingers and saying, “Look! They messed up again,” nothing will change.

      Treating all white people as enemies is racist, too. There are people who are earnestly trying to improve and be more tolerant. I’d rather encourage their efforts than look for reasons to feel offended.

      By the way, when I talked about progressiveness, I wasn’t saying this show has changed. I was holding it above other shows. Winx Club has never had problems with diversity and integration. It’s been progressive from the start, and it continues to be more progressive than other cartoons.

  21. I don’t even care that this post is from March; I just have to comment.

    Can I see how this scene could be perceived as racist? Yes, I can. Can I see how the whole show could be perceived as racist? No, I can’t.

    For one thing, (http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurisem/15-cartoons-you-never-realized-had-natural-hair-12gk8#.xhaLBB98M) in the parentheses is the URL for a BuzzFeed article entitled “15 Cartoon Characters Who Totally Rocked Their Natural Hair”. As you will see, Aisha is number five.

    Also, you’re right about how all the realms contain all different races. Frankly, I didn’t really pay attention to race in Winx Club until I read this post. (Okay, sure, I knew Aisha was black and Musa was probably Asian, and I did notice that Flora’s skin tone seemed a little bit darker, but it didn’t have a big impact on how I viewed the show. Nor is it ever brought up by the characters.)

    But now that I’ve read this, I notice background characters and their various races. One of the things I noticed was that Teredor, a black wizard, was the brother of Neptune, the white merman. I don’t know how I didn’t notice that before, but I did midpost. Maybe I noticed subconsciously or something like that.

    I also never really noticed the mixed-race love, not even Aisha and Nex. For me, it wasn’t “black and white”; it was “Aisha and Nex”. I also never noticed Flora and Helia. The truth is, except for this scene, Winx never brings up race. And even in that scene, race isn’t mentioned; it’s the critics that mentioned it. I rewatched it before I wrote this comment, and not once were the words “African-American” or “black” brought up. Just her hair and her panic over it.

    I really don’t wanna get into the black natural hair conversation because I have never talked about it before, and I would feel out of place and wouldn’t know what I was talking about. However, I do believe everyone has the right to rock their hair, skin, or anything else, no matter how it is. I have a cousin missing half an arm; she went on to compete in the Miss America pageant. If that isn’t inspirational to people in general, I don’t know what is. If someone believes that Winx Club is racist, well, they should either do their research first or just not watch the show. Note to all humans: please, please, PLEASE do not rant about something you have not done research on. It sucks when something you love gets bashed because of a misguided person. 🙁 🙁 🙁

      • As for the Buzzfeed part, I like reading Buzzfeed articles on Harry Potter, so I do site-restricted Google searches on that. One day I changed it to “Winx Club” and that came up. I was pretty surprised, also.

        The part about my cousin: it truly was. My whole family got to go to New Jersey so we could see her, and although she didn’t make it into the top fifteen, the rest of the trip made up for it.

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