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These Old School Disney Movies Are Shockingly Racist

Animated Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael flying away from the Darling home

In recent years, I’ve heard that some of my favorite childhood movies had racist undertones. Yet it wasn’t until I watched Peter Pan with my daughter when I realized just how glaringly racist it is.

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Peter Pan was one of the movies my brother and I watched over and over again. We owned it. We knew the lines and had our favorite parts. In the opening scene when Mr. Darling is looking for his cufflinks, there are specific moments in the scene that were memorable to me. I had always wanted a dog like Nana to take care of me and loved the idea of a caring big sister like Wendy and of course, wanted to fly.

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But as the children reach Neverland, I started to question nearly everything and wanted to even turn off the movie. The depiction of Native Americans is alarming. The children are marching through the land singing about going to fight “in-juns”. This disturbing moment precedes the Native Americans singing about “what makes the red man, red”.

The only comfort that I had watching this with my child was that if I didn’t remember after seeing it many times, she wouldn’t hold onto these disturbingly racist scenes, either. But Peter Pan isn’t the only old school Disney movie like this. The Little Mermaid, Dumbo and Aladdin ,too, all have racist stereotypes. So before running off to the happiest place on earth singing songs about love and magic, think twice before showing your favorite Disney classic to your kids.


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