Cheers for Cheerios

Wednesday June 5, 2013

Three cheers to General Mills for not bending to the reaction of some narrow-minded racists over the latest Cheerios commercial which features a mixed-race family.

The Cheerios spot, which began on national television last Monday and was uploaded to YouTube last Wednesday, shows a young girl asking her mother if the cereal is "good for your heart." Her mother assures her that it is. The girl runs away with a cereal box, and in the next scene, the girl’s sleeping father awakes with a pile of Cheerios atop the side of his chest where his heart is. The commercial ends with the word "Love" on screen.

It really doesn’t get any cuter than that, and anyone with a heart themselves would find the commercial, and the purely innocent mindset of the young girl featured in it, adorable.

Unfortunately, the fact that the commercial features a white mother, a black father and a mixed-race little girl seems to have ruffled the feathers of a few people who have nothing better to do than spew their hatred from the anonymous safety of their home computers.

People on YouTube and Reddit were salty because, as NPR reported, the ad seemed to push "race" in their face: "These videos encourage people to seek partners outside their racial group. It already happens too much Š for comfort. I shall eat Toasted Oats instead," one poster wrote. The comments got even uglier on YouTube and the comment section for that video was shut down. According to Tim Nudd at Ad Week, the comments included "references to Nazis, ‘troglodytes,’ and ‘racial genocide.’"

In an era when the nation’s African-American president is in his second term in office and with minorities soon to become a majority population, it’s sad and disheartening to know that some people continue to spread such hurtful vitriol. We would like to think we have evolved more than that since the repugnant bigotry of the past.

What is heartening, however, is the backlash to the backlash.

Overall, reaction to the commercial has been positive. On the approval/disapproval counter accompanying the video, there were more than 700 "thumbs down" as of Friday evening, compared with more than 6,400 "thumbs up," the New York Times reports.

What’s more, the Internet has been abuzz with commentary that defends General Mills and blasts the racists for posting such hateful remarks. We especially like what one blogger wrote for the Dayton Daily News. Actually, the headline alone gave us a little chuckle: "Cheerios and other taboo ads unite both sides of the ‘stupid spectrum.’"

The blogger, Amelia Robinson, notes that there were racist black people who thought the video was an example of how the ‘system’ is trying to destroy the black race, and there were racist white people who thought the video was an example of how the ‘system’ is trying to destroy the white race.

"All the time they miss the fact that the country isn’t as ‘black’ or ‘white’ as it used to be and most think race is a non-factor when it comes to love," Robinson wrote.

She goes on to cite some interesting statistics: Interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One in 12 married couples in the U.S. were interracial in 2010, according to the Pew Research Center. "Cheerios is in the cereal-selling business," Robinson wrote. "It would be foolish not to try to sell to the market, particularly since most members of the silent majority find nothing sickening about interracial couples or its offspring."

Robinson cites a Gallup Poll which notes that 96 percent of blacks and 84 percent of whites approved of interracial marriage in 2011. Only 4 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage in 1958, the first year Gallup asked the question.

General Mills recognizes these changing demographics and attitudes as well. "There are many kinds of families, and Cheerios celebrates them all," Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, said in a statement to Ad Week. Despite some serious, negative response online, "it’s been a very positive response overall," she said.

The company says it has no intention of pulling the ad. We applaud the folks at General Mills for standing their ground against the haters and naysayers.


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