When we reimagined Aladdin and the Lamp, making Alyan and the Lamp, we worked hard on making it our own. We took the source material and changed it, keeping some, removing others, and created whole new story points. We published it and were met with incredulous outcries: “Why is Aladdin white?!”
It began an online debate we weren’t expecting. Arguments from all sides were posted. Middle Eastern light-skinned people felt insulted by the side saying he should be dark. Others were upset that we were ignoring the original story. It took us completely by surprise.
Alyan isn’t white.
“What!” I hear you cry, “He clearly is!” No, he’s not, at least not in the northern European sense. He’s half-Chinese. His skin coloring is light, but not caucasian. “Why would you make him half-chinese?” I hear you again. He’s always (Disney notwithstanding) been half-Chinese. From the first appearance of Aladdin in Les Mille et Une Nuits by Antoine Galland in 1710 he has been half-Chinese. We took an element that we felt was ignored in other adaptations and had the story begin in China and move to Baghdad.
Read Alyan and the Lamp and discover for yourself.