Over the past few months both Sprint and Cheerios launched campaigns featuring interracial families.
Sprint’s campaign features NBA player, Kevin Durant, as the husband of an Asian wife, and their biracial son. The more recently released Cheerios commercial features a beautiful biracial girl engaging her white mother in morning conversation about the benefits Cheerios has on the heart. The short commercial closes with the little girl covering her African American father’s heart with Cheerios. What’s the theme of the commercial? Love.
While some have applauded these marketing efforts as reflective of American society, many hearts were exposed as a result of seeing interracial families depicted on their television screens. General Mills has received so many racially charged and harsh comments in response to their Cheerios commercial that they decided to disable the comments section of the video on their YouTube channel.
Cheerios stands by the commercial and their desire to celebrate all kinds of families.
Several media markets have picked up the controversy surrounding the commercial debate. Let’s be clear about this. There is no debate. The negative responses to this Cheerios commercial are reflections of the racism that is still prevalent in our society. It is easy to downplay this by saying, “Well, it’s only a reflection of a few people. Let’s not overact,” or to pretend like racism is not a problem in our country until we are again confronted with an issue like this one.
The problem with these passive positions is that many minorities who live in this country don’t have the luxury of pretending that racism does not exist. On various levels, we experience the ramifications of racial hate, sometimes on a daily basis, which forces us to make choices about how to respond in context because we understand that racism is a present reality in our lives.
It is sad and an unfortunate truth that we are having these conversations in 2013, but I am convinced that we must continue having these conversations until hearts are changed, we become better together, commit to racial unity in our communities, and extend genuine love to all people regardless of their racial or ethnical background.
Let me also be clear in stating that racism is not a one way street. A person from any racial or ethnic background can be racist. That’s why I am intentional about continuing these conversations because there are American parents today who are manipulating the hearts of their children and planting seeds of racial hate. This means, unless someone else who is wiser and more loving comes into the lives of those children to show them a better way, they too will become parents who plant seeds of racial hate in the hearts of their children, and the vicious cycle of racism will continue.
Will we ever overcome it?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013