This petition comes ahead of the highly anticipated Disney reboot, the trailer of which broke the internet with a record 224 million views in the first 24 hours. Shelton, and the over 50,000 people who’ve rallied behind him, hope to persuade Disney to drop this catchphrase ahead of the film’s release, which TBQH, I can’t see happening.
Shelton told BBC that this was just the latest in African culture being “exploited in some shape, fashion or form.” Though he’s not a speaker of the language, which is spoken primarily in Tanzania, Burundi, Congo, and Kenya, he told the outlet that many “Swahili speakers have been utterly shocked” and “had no idea” Disney held a trademark on a phrase from their language.
“I always had an understanding that a culture’s language was its richness,” he went on to say, urging others to support his plea for cultures not to be patented.
This isn’t the first time Disney’s been caught in a cultural appropriation storm. Anyone remember the time they applied to trademark the phrase “Dia de los Muertos” for merchandising purposes ahead of the release of Coco? At the time, Disney said it changed the name of their animated film and dropped their pursuit of the trademark.