I am so not surprised…
Really, America? We’re going to get into a kerfuffle about a Cheerios ad featuring a mixed-race family? Really?? In 2013?
Let’s look at this reference before I carry on:
Post-racial America: “A theoretical environment where the United States is devoid of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice. Some Americans believed that the election of Barack Obama as President and wider acceptance of interracial marriage signified that the nation had entered this state, while others believe that groups such as the Tea Party movement prove it has not. In January 2010 the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in conjunction with National Public Radio that indicated that 39% of persons of African-American descent felt they were in a better position than they had been five years ago, an increase of 19% from the previous poll taken in 2008. Actor and director Mario Van Peebles made a television documentary titled Fair Game that challenged the idea that the United States had become a post-racial society. [Wikipedia]
Yes… “theoretical.” And do we really think we’re there yet, in that “theoretical” post-racial America? I see evidence of it, particularly among our younger generations, most (many) of whom grew up without the rabid mentoring of racist parents (forgetting portions of the south where getting an integrated prom is big news or 14-year-old black boys are put in chokeholds for the wrong kind of “stare”). But while the public face of our country may be more embracing and civilized, in the back corners of rural America, the town halls of middle America, even in the vaunted halls of Congress, the creaking, rotting bona fides of American racism remain as potent as ever. Will we ever get post-racial? As they say, “we’re working on it.”
Take Cheerios, for instance. A good, decent breakfast cereal enjoyed by many, the high-profile company decided to release an ad, similar to all its many other ads, but this one features a “modern family” of mixed race. Call out the dogs, mother, we’re losing the cereal demographic! Or so you’d think… from Gawker:
A nice Cheerios advertisement whose only discernible difference from other Cheerios commercials is that it depicts an interracial family was forced to disable its YouTube comments section today after it became inundated with virulent racism. […]
Segregationists still looking to tell the world how angry they are about a cereal commercial can do so at Reddit—”Shoving multi-culturism down our throats when we know it fails.. awesome.”
Yeah. Damn that ‘failing multiculturalism.’
Why is this still an issue, mixed race families? Seriously, are we incapable of adjusting to evolving culture, of transcending our most ignorant past? Especially since we got this worked out on a constitutional basis a while ago:
It was back in 1967, 46 long years ago, that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that states could not prohibit marriages between “whites and nonwhites.” It was a 9–0 decision in the case of Loving vs. Virginia, in which a white man, Richard P. Loving, challenged the anti-miscegenation laws of his state to on behalf of his part-Negro, part-Indian wife, Mildred. The decision ruled that all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States were unconstitutional.
And yet here we are, in 2013, still railing and roiling over race, over mixed race families in a cereal commercial. Perhaps racism just sticks to the bottom of the shoes of those who can’t walk away from America’s past… but there are too many who appear to be more comfortable in the mud.
Over at AdWeek, writer Tim Nudd looked at the Cheerios ruckus and went with a sort of socio-anthropological approach:
The problem is that TV ads have always lagged TV programming in this regard, as so many brands are clearly scared of being perceived as making a political statement with the casting of their commercials. Thus, the Cheerios ad, despite its characters being representative of tens of thousands of actual couples in America, sticks out like a sore thumb. And then you have the YouTube comments section, which predictably has devolved into an endless flame war, with references to Nazis, “troglodytes” and “racial genocide.” At what point will an ad like this just seem normal?
When hell freezes?
And let’s comment for a minute on the YouTube comments: when the great video sharing site actually shuts down the comment feature due to the sheer volume of UGLY, that’s gotta be a shitload of ugly. Shame on you, non-post-racial Americans.
As much as it’s easy to get glib and sarcastic about the ignorance of anyone leaving vile, racist comments in response to this very sweet, every-day ad about oat cereal, in truth is it deeply disturbing that hiding behind the Internet “cloak of invisibility,” are our country’s most hateful, virulent people. Hard to reconcile the passionate, high-minded ideals of democracy and our melting pot citizenry with the bottom-feeding puke of hate-mongers.
But puke they do, all over comment sections, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, wherever they can find a platform (pretty much anywhere these days) and a willing audience (pretty much anywhere these days… just see Rush Limbaugh and his endless herd of Dittoheads). Like locusts, cockroaches and those little nits that get into pancake mix, it’s hard to stomp them all out, but those working For The Good must keep trying.
I write about it, shine a light on it, drag it out from anonymity whenever I can; do what I can to bring it out into open conversation so those who are “just stunned” (said one reader who could not believe such heinous things are still happening in our country) can be made aware, can be compelled to speak up and do their share of stomping when they have the opportunity.
And, as writer Jorge Rivas of Colorlines pointed out, sometimes the good guys speak up too:
“Every commercial with an interracial family show a black man and white woman. You never see Asians or Native Americans or Mexicans or even a white man with a black woman,” wrote one user on Reddit. “I’m not satisfied with the family, they need to be more interracial.”
Everyone’s a critic. But at least this one is leaning in the right direction!
All I can say is, keep stomping.
Here’s the video:
- Adorable Cheerios Commercial Gets Racist Backlash Online (huffingtonpost.com)
- Cheerios and Multiracial Families? Not Everybody is Ready for This! (colorfulcommentary.org)
- Cheerios Ad Featuring Interracial Family Receives Racist Backlash (moinaturale.wordpress.com)
- That Cheerios Cereal Biracial Family Commercial, “Just Checking” (thisblksistaspage.wordpress.com)
- Cheerios ad goes viral with bigotry because if stars an interracial family (examiner.com)
- Cereal Commercial With Mixed Race Family Sparks Backlash on Internet (VIDEO) (thestir.cafemom.com)