MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The trailer for the live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” inspired young girls from all over the world, but it also inspired a lot of criticism. 

Although many people were thrilled to see Halle Bailey, a Black woman, play the role of Ariel, the YouTube trailer got more than a million dislikes within a few days and the phrase ‘not my Ariel’ began circulating on social media. 

“When you have a divide like that in public discourse and it’s so stark, you just wonder kind of what could we learn by having conversation about this topic?” said Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga, program manager at Muskegon Area District Library. 

MADL got together with Hackley Public Library to discuss how to host they could host a community discussion ahead of the movie’s release on May 26.

“I’m a firm believer that we learn through conversation, that, you know, sometimes we even change our mind in conversation, and I think that the public library is a really good convener around conversation on stuff that divides us,” Rinsema-Sybenga said. 

The discussion, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Consumers Energy will take place at Celebration Cinema Carousel on Tuesday, May 9 at 6 p.m.

The panel, titled “Black Representation in Hollywood: Who Gets to be a Mermaid” will feature local film producer Jazrielle Couran, Grand Valley State University film history and theory faculty member Kerri VanderHoff, and Muskegon native Quincy Isaiah, who stars in the HBO series “Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.”

The discussion will center on questions like, ‘What frames our understanding of what race fictional characters should be?’ ‘How does race intersect with film?’ And ‘How is Hollywood making progress as it relates to race and what still holds us back?’

“We didn’t really know the answers to these questions,” Rinsema-Sybenga said. “We wanted to pull in the experts.”

You can register to attend the panel at

In addition to the educational panel, MADL is partnering with several organizations to provide a free showing of the live-action “The Little Mermaid” at the Cinema Carousel on Tuesday, May 30th. There will be a “red carpet” experience for families focused on celebrating Black culture and pride with activities including Mermaid photo opportunities, crafts, and face painting. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by the movie at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the movie are required and available on a first come first serve basis. Starting on May 22, you can show your MADL library card at any of the district branches or your Hackley Library Card at the Hackley Public Library to pick up your free Ticket to the event