Cheerios Shuts Prejudice Mouths

Viewers respond with outrage over biracial commercial.

By Kevin RR Williams

EQUALITY There's a saying among the African American community: "One drop makes you whole." Though quite proud of his African American heritage, if my father walked into a KFC wearing a white suit with black western bow tie, there's a good chance he would be mistaken for the late keeper of the secret list of 11 herbs and spices.

My father grew up in an era where "it wasn't against the law to shoot a black man," he often says. Yet, he never tried to pass for white, even though his grandmother was mulatto. My family tree branches into the continents of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. I say this without shame or reproach because such heritage is common among most African American families and many caucasians. Though some would like to believe otherwise, few in this melting pot called America are purely of one race. Biblically, every nation of men descends from one common ancestry. —Genesis 10:5; Acts 17:26.

With this background, the thoughts running through my mind when I saw the interracial Cheerios commercial were: 1. That cute little girl looks like 2011 season X Factor hopeful Rachel Crow. 2. Advertisers could have picked an actress that had a closer resemblance to the child's mother. 3. It's about time they depict a mixed family. Absent were feelings of bias or emotional outrage welling up within me. In fact, I enjoy Cheerios with almond milk so the commercial did not need to convert me.

Cereal Prejudice

The reaction of 10 percent of the commenters on YouTube was seething hatred and condemnation. Many alluded to racial cleansing of either the black or white race. Remarks were so hateful and offensive that General Mills had to shut the mouths of viewers by purging and disabling the comment section of its YouTube video. If this is the manifestation of centuries of progress, Rachel Crow's powerful rendition of the Etta James classic rings in my ears: "I'd Rather Go Blind."

Cheerios: "Just Checking"
Controversial Commercial Video

There was a shameful time in history when the world — not just the USA — tolerated and encouraged racial discrimination. Some rural areas today lack the ethnic diversity of metropolitan cities. In such farmyards or garages, it may not be surprising to find 60-year-old segregated drinking fountain placards or bus signs. Sound far-fetched? The first unsegregated high school prom in Wilcox County, Georgia USA was just held in April 2013. [1]

Why do emotions become polarized over the color of one's skin or phenotype? The DNA of any two people is at least 99 percent identical. "Scientists, for instance, have recently identified small changes in DNA that account for the pale skin of Europeans, the tendency of Asians to sweat less and West Africans’ resistance to certain diseases. But many geneticists, wary of fueling discrimination and worried that speaking openly about race could endanger support for their research, are loath to discuss the social implications of their findings." [2-3]

Focus On Good Health and Love

The multiracial commercial dialog has diverted attention from the message General Mills was trying to convey: A research study conducted and presented by Provident Clinical Research in 2009, found that eating two 1-1/2 cup servings of Cheerios daily, as part of a reduced calorie diet low in fat, lowered LDL or "bad" cholesterol about 10 percent in one month. [4] In other words, it's good for your heart.

Ironically, the commercial ends with the word, "Love." (John 13:35) It might as well have signed off with the word, "Hate." (1 John 3:15) In today's society, we expect more dignified and open minded responses to a biracial family. [5] This is true whether or not you agree that an oat cereal will help you to be A Bit More Healthy. Borrowing from a coffee commercial slogan, as a society of people with common ancestry, we should strive to be "good to the last drop."

Tags: cardiovascular, cvd, discrimination, grains, heart disease, oats

References
  1. Segregated prom tradition yields to unity. cnn.com ^
  2. In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice. nytimes.com ^
  3. Race and genetics. wikipedia.org ^
  4. Cheerios® Can Help Reduce Cholesterol 10 Percent in One Month. generalmills.com ^
  5. Cheerios Commercial Prompts Backlash Over Interracial Family. cinemablend.com ^