A Little Girl, A Bowl of Cheerios, and A Whole Lot of Hate

It’s somewhat ironic that a 30 second Cheerios commercial could show just how far America has to go when it comes to race and media.

The Cheerios commercial that has ignited a racist backlash is rather simple in its premise. A young girl – who happens to be biracial – asks her mother if Cheerios are good for your heart. Her mother responds that they are indeed healthy for your heart. The commercial then cuts to her sleeping father on the couch who awakens to see an avalanche of Cheerios on his chest. Here’s how it all plays out:

As you can see, the mother is white and the father is black. More than a few people apparently couldn’t stand to see an interracial couple being featured in a commercial in 2013 America. What followed were some pretty nasty and hateful comments left on the commercial’s Youtube page. The vitriol was so bad that General Mills (the brand that makes Cheerios) disabled comments on the page.

Now what does this commercial say about race relations in 2013 America? That there is still much work to be done. Many people want to believe that race is not as big of an issue as it was say in the 50s and 60s, however I tend to believe that race isn’t as public a topic as it used to be.

What these hateful comments and this backlash shows is that unfortunately there are still many who harbor racist views of not just blacks, but a multitude of people within our society. This was true in the 60s as well. The key difference? Today, people (by and large) aren’t that stupid to express their racist attitudes in public. It’s a lot easier to spew hatred anomalously via the the black box that is the internet. And these racist comments aren’t limited to commercials either. This has been a problem in the gaming community for years and the issue was addressed at this year’s SXSW festival.

Ultimately, despite the racist attitudes of many, it’s worth noting that there were a number of people who supported the Cheerios commercial for its diversity. At a time when American families are integrating more than ever, this commercial is a reflection of the changing makeup of society, if not changing thoughts. Perhaps Camille Gibson, who is the vice president of marketing for Cheerios, said it best when she stated, “We felt like we were reflecting the American family.”

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