HOT Topic: Racism and Interracial Commercials

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

9 thoughts on “HOT Topic: Racism and Interracial Commercials

  1. “Sprint’s campaign features NBA player, Kevin Durant, as the husband of an Asian wife, and their biracial son.”

    Um… just as an observation, I think you missed the point of that commercial, which was that *wasn’t* the father of the son, or the husband of the wife, which is why the pajamas don’t fit him, the kid wants to know what’s wrong with him, and the wife’s realization she could take advantage of this newly acquired height.

    The father is implied to be Asian, just like the wife and kid, who was “turned into” the basketball player, which starts the ball rolling on the whole joke.

    Whether the ‘joke’ is funny or not is up for debate.

  2. “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.”

    This is my favorite part! Sooo helpful! Thanks, N!

  3. Thank you for bringing up this important topic. The racism that still underlies our society (and our very hearts) needs to be brought to the light. I can’t wait to read more!

  4. Thanks for posting this Natasha, esp. having an interracial family myself. There’s something to be said about how it’s ‘neat’ to see our/or family photos that represent ones like ours on a mantel or on a Holiday greeting card, but when that image or ‘symbol’ moves into and replaces the territory of media and stock film for commercials like Sprint and Cheerios (big mainstream brands) just how threatening we suddenly become…

  5. I absolutely love the Cheerios commercial!
    The Kevin Durant commercial was not portraying an interracial couple so I don’t understand why there would be any outcry.

  6. Very interesting indeed, Robyn, how companies now see the embracing of diversity from this perspective as a marketing ploy and the irony of watching the gesture backfire in their face. Do you think its threatening because these faces are replacing the mainstream all ‘white’ family faces (i.e. changing the perspective of what’s “normal” in our society, as well as, maybe the perception of taking white actors jobs)?

  7. As a racial minority in an interracial marriage, I’m glad to see interracial marriages being portrayed on television! I’m simultaneously disheartened, though not all that surprised by the response to the Cheerios commercial. Racism still does exist, and not just in places that are stereotyped as being backward.

    I think the misperception that it doesn’t exist anymore is because it has become politically incorrect to openly make racist comments. However, what goes on in private conversations, and more importantly, what truly goes on in one’s heart, can be very, very different. And as you pointed out, this applies to people of any ethnic background. Thanks for sharing, Natasha.

  8. Sorry I’m entering the discussion late. Truthfully, I think racism is a function of the brokenness that exists in our world and that it will never fully be eradicated this side of heaven. (And I agree with Marlene that even though it’s politically incorrect not to say openly racist things, people still do in their own private contexts—case in point, Paula Deen!) That said, I absolutely believe in our calling as Christians to practice the ministry of reconciliation, because I believe the love of Christ can enable us to fully extend love and grace to those who are different from us, racially and in other ways. The church should be a leader in demonstrating racial understanding and bridge-building, but in many cases it lags behind, sadly. We do still have a long way to go. But I so appreciate your raising the issue and making your thoughtful and helpful points, Natasha!

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