In this essay, Racquel Gates revisits the 1941 Disney classic Dumbo via a speculative reading of the black reverberations that run throughout the animated film. Situating her analysis in the act of viewing the film with her sons during the 2020 George Floyd protests, Gates uses her personal experience to reframe the film with a new emphasis on Dumbo’s black resonance, specifically highlighting some of the film’s undertheorized historical and performative elements. While taking into account Dumbo’s uncomfortable incorporation of minstrelsy and Disney’s larger problems of racial representation, Gates pushes for a complex reading of the film that situates blackness at the core of its affective connection.
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