• author
    • Kelvin Wade

    • June 3, 2013 in Columnists

    Of bigots, basements and bowls of Cheerios

    Controversy swirls around a new Cheerios ad featuring an interracial family. In the ad, a clearly biracial child asks her white mother if Cheerios are healthy. Her mother explains the way the cereal purportedly helps lower cholesterol makes it heart healthy. The little girl runs off with the Cheerios box. Cut to a scene of the girl’s black father waking up on the couch with a pile of Cheerios covering his chest.

    General Mills had to disable comments on YouTube for the commercial because of the hateful, racist posts the ad garnered. Though the overwhelming majority of the comments were supportive, still there were those that referenced Nazis and disparaged African-Americans.

    No doubt a large part of this story is just about YouTube. If you go to the comments section of almost any YouTube video you’ll see some of the most vile comments from hateful trolls. These are most likely jobless Xbox-playing guys, living with their mothers, whose only sexual outlet is staring out their basement window watching the elderly neighbor unload her groceries from her car while hoping a breeze blows her dress up. The anonymity of the Internet allows them to give in to their id.

    This cannot be overstated. The Internet allows people to stop being polite. People check their political correctness at the door but they also check their civility. They let out those dark emotions that they keep under wraps. For these cowardly folks, they know that they couldn’t say these hateful things face to face without ending up with someone’s shoe buried in their ass. But hiding online, they’re Billy Badass with a keyboard.

    But the other part of the story is this backlash in America that we’ve seen since Barack Obama won the White House. It’s not just that Obama is African-American — he’s half white. He embodies the browning of America. It’s not only a change in the racial composition of the country that rubs some the wrong way, but also change in terms of jobs, housing, gay rights, immigration, social norms, the role of religion and battles over women’s and minority rights that have provoked a backlash mostly from a sliver of white men. Folks are more likely to show their true colors and it’s not pretty.

    That Cheerios commercial is me. When I sit down to Sunday dinner with my white girlfriend, her white-Japanese daughter, and her daughter’s black husband and their two multi-racial children, I’m looking at the new America. Two of my brothers are married to white women and have biracial children. We’re here.

    It’s fitting that this issue is coming to the fore now. June 12 marks the 46th anniversary of Virginia vs. Loving, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in America. According to the 2010 Census, 1 in 10 marriages is interracial while 1 in 5 unmarried couples are among people of different races. It makes sense that advertisers are going to reflect that change in society.

    I’ll reiterate that we’re talking about a minority of people with these views. There are plenty of folks who embrace the idea that change doesn’t weaken America.

    But the bottom line is that we are America, too. We’re not going anywhere. In fact, the trend lines show a browner, more Latino, gay-friendly America is on deck. General Mills understands that. For the haters, get used to that lonely basement and spewing your vitriol into cyberspace. Shake your fist. Try out a virtual hood. Goosestep around the basement. Be pissed off.

    We’re still here… dating your sister.

    * * * * *

    See the Cheerios commercial here: http://youtu.be/kYofm5d5Xdw

    • Holy crap! I saw that commercial, and I was so refreshingly surprised and touched… FINALLY something that reflects real life. I had no idea of the backlash online, but… Who goes to look at Cheerios commercials on YouTube?

      That Cheerios commercial is just precious and NORMAL, and the reaction from that sliver? Than God they’re just a sliver, and a tiny, irrelevant minority. May the other voices drown them out!

      Fabulous column. 🙂

    • Loved the commercials and loved your comments as always Kelvin. Wait until the Chinese really arrive and we all become part Chinese in the next 100 years. I won’t be around to see it but it will pass just like today’s racial mixes and better for all of us in the end. Inclusion is the best game in town.

      • Mark

      • June 3, 2013 at 9:37 am
      • Reply

      Mr. Wade, thank you so much for this column–it is absolutely WONDERFUL. I’ve just posted it to my own FB page, recommending that everyone read it and pass it along; and I’ve also shared it in a transracial adoption-focused group, whose members have been very interested in the airing of the commercial and the aftermath of that airing. This was beautifully said, and I agree 1,000 percent with your perspective, particularly as I am a person of color, a gay man, an immigrant, and a transracial adoptee. THANK YOU. –Mark from Chicago

        • Kelvin

        • June 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you. These hateful folks are bitterly trying to hang onto a time that has ome and gone. America is growing up and moving on and those close-minded people are going to be left behind if they don’t open their eyes. Thank you so much for spreading my words. I appreciate it.

      • Terri Connett

      • June 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm
      • Reply

      Well done, Kelvin! You are spot on!!

      • Kelvin

      • June 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm
      • Reply

      It’s a new day!

    • I am going to have to play my Motown classics a little louder tonight!

      • Maya North

      • June 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm
      • Reply

      I started my child’s campaign against “prejudice” when I was a little kid — maybe 10. I was a 4 year old bigot — it was Missouri in 1959. My 11 year old cousin stared at me after I made a mildly (and I do mean mildly) racist comment and asked me “How would you like it if people hated you for being white?” Stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. I watched the civil rights movement play out live, in black and white and by the time desegregation had come to our schools I was dancing with glee. I stood down grownup bigots in stores. I had persuasive conversations with college students who outright admitted “I’m prejudiced” without truly even known what the word means (to prejudge before you even know someone — how would you like that?) until they wandered off saying, “Oh my GOSH you’re RIGHT! That’s AWFUL! So when I saw that Cheerios commercial and before that when I wept with joy that we had elected Barack Obama for TWO terms, I was long since at the point of “bring it!” at the idea of the browning of America, which includes my daughter’s two half-sibs and a few more. We’re gonna be gorgeous. Now if we could also all embrace the best of each other’s cultures and ditch the worst… 😉

    • Nice column.

      It was awesome that Cheerios ran a spot like that, most likely knowing full well the response would be polarizing. I think it shows an evolutionary step on their part to forge ahead with a message that would most likely alienate some consumers. Perhaps a great takeaway is that the company actively decided that the majority of its audience – who could tolerate such a message – was more important than the small group of people who found fault.

      My own perspective is that I used to feel great outrage for those who were so narrow minded. These days, I find myself filled with compassion for them. Their limiting views of the world only brings unhappiness and anger into their own lives. It limits the possibility of good things coming their way. The seek to cause chaos and disharmony and that is exactly what the universe gives them. Their wishes are granted.

      What their opinions can never do is limit or hinder those who are tolerant and loving of the decisions and choices of others. Nothing gets in the way of higher thinking.

      We are evolving despite these individuals efforts to throw misguided energies in the way. They can’t stop the rest of us. They only destine themselves to a life void of joy and filled with anger – a choice brought upon themselves and not inflicted upon them by the people whom they fear.

    • I loved it. I am part of the browning of America. When buying a house, realtors took my mom, (Think Lucy Ricardo) and my dad (Think Oh Ricky) into two distinct neighborhoods because of red lining. There’s a lot about the 60’s I won’t miss.

    • PS Do you think with all this cyber spying that is going on, the racists are easily identified and tracked?

      • Lynette

      • June 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm
      • Reply

      I was really shocked to hear about people’s hateful comments to a sweet commercial, it really surprised me. It makes *slightly* more sense thinking of what you wrote- that it’s probably jobless video game addicted bored people with nothing better to do than be hateful anonymously. But it still puzzles me. I thought our culture was finally getting over its hateful racism.

      -From a conservative white woman married to a conservative white man with white kids; who love black people and people from all ethnic backgrounds <3

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