One step forward, 2 steps back: Black & White couple in Cheerios ad stirs controversy

“A nice Cheerios advertisement whose only discernible difference from other Cheerios commercials is that it depicts an interracial family was forced to disable its YouTube comments section today after it became inundated with virulent racism. ” (via Gawker) But first a few facts via the Census Bureau: there’s a total of 311, 591, 919 estimated people in the U.S.A. Out of all those people there’s an estimate of 8,721, 818 who are “of two or more races” which is roughly 3% of the population. When you then look at the increase of mixed race heterosexual couples in the US, the evolution towards a more integrated society is staggering, mixed-race children are one of the fastest growing segment of the population: among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples) and 21% of same-sex couples (133,477 couples) were mixed.

There could also be evidence that people are reacting more strongly to the depiction of a black male with a white woman. A thoughtful post by Angela Onwuachi-Willig in Black Voices writing about the show Scandal shows how black and white relations in particular are often seen as deviant:

As a black woman who has been married to my white husband for 17 years and, more so, been in a relationship with him for 22 years, I tend to cringe at depictions of interracial intimacy, particularly black-white intimacy, under morally unacceptable circumstances, such as adulterous affairs. As I explain in my book According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family, black-white relationships, both historically and currently, are often framed as deviant.

She also quotes an interviewee form her book:

The socio-cultural history of enslavement in the United States makes the lives of black-white couples very different from those of other interracial couples. [For this reason,] I [am] very sensitive to the ‘outness’ of our relationship. I grew up knowing of black women who loved white men, but those white men were afraid to be seen with the black women they dated. So, as an intellectual, but also deeply spiritual matter I am concerned about love being out of the closet in relation to black women/white male relationships.

The commercial was created by the New York ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi and Cheerios was unfazed by the backlash on the internet (but had to disable the comments on youtube). Video after the break.

 

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