A couple of weeks ago, RJ and I were watching TV when something caught RJ’s eye. He rewinded the DVR (can you do that?) and went back so that we could re-watch what caught his eye.
It was a Cheerios commercial! But it was different from a typical Cheerios commercial.
“Huh. It’s an interracial family. That’s cool,” RJ said.
And then we went about our business.
(Here is the commercial if you haven’t seen it. ^^)
In Cheerios’ new commercial, the featured family has a similar conversation about Cheerios that all families in commercials past have had.
The only difference is that this particular commercial features an absolutely adorable half-African American half-white little girl, a white mother, and an African American father. Each of the families past have been racially and ethnically homogeneous.
But no big deal, right? It’s 2013, we’re used to interracial marriages by now, I mean, we see them everywhere around us!
Apparently, Cheerios featuring an interracial family caused such a uproar on the interwebs that Cheerios had to disable the comments section in their YouTube video due to the ridiculous numbers of racial slurs and racist remarks being posted.
…..Uhh…are we in the 1960’s or something???
Two days ago, TheFineBros posted a video in response to the “controversy” over the new Cheerios commercial. In this video, they showed the commercial to a bunch of kids of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds, and asked these kids questions about the video in order to see what their reaction was to the commercial. I stumbled upon an article linking this video on Facebook, and the article ended with the statement, “I bet you won’t be able to keep a smile off of your face.”
Which is true. As I watched, I couldn’t help but smile! These kids are too stinkin’ precious!!!
(You probably won’t understand the rest of what I write unless you watch the video, which can be found down below.)
And yet at the same time, I had a very unexpected and downright weird (even for me!) reaction to these kids’ reaction to the controversy over this commercial:
I started to cry.
No, not just a single tear that was squeezed out. As I was smiling, I could feel a huge sob welling up in my chest that I was fighting to choke back. Over watching some kids’ reaction to the controversy over this perfectly normal Cheerios commercial. And at first, I had no idea why. (And NO, it’s not that particularly emotional time of the month!!!)
When I realized that I was crying over something that I should’ve just been smiling about, I really had to look inward to see what the tears were about.
And then it hit me: RJ and I have begun our own little interracial family, and we hope to one day have little interracial babies running around. And it’s hard to accept that there are still so many who oppose it. Who oppose US.
I am Taiwanese American, and RJ is half Dutch Indonesian, half white. But when you’re with someone you love, you just kind of forget about these racial and ethnic differences. I mean, yeah, they’re still there and we definitely notice them at times. Like when my grandmother offers RJ whole deep fried fish and he has to eat it all just because it’s my grandma, even though he hates all sea food. Or when RJ has to deal with a passive aggressive wife who has passive aggressive family members who are all passive aggressively trying to communicate their desires when all he wants is just a straight answer. Or when RJ’s got all of these unspoken expectations that he can’t possibly guess because it’s never been communicated to him, but he can’t read them because he didn’t grow up discerning the cues. (Ummm…yeah, he definitely got the short end of the culture stick…)
But for the most part, both of our racial and cultural differences are no longer defining characteristics that distinguish one of us from the other. They all blend together to become us. To become our little family. We’ve become color blind.
So imagine the shock back to reality that though we’ve become color blind ourselves, that when some see us holding hands walking down the street, they see a white guy and an Asian girl and it’s wrong to them. Yet while they’re too cowardly to say it to our faces, they have no problem behind the anonymity of the internet to lob some racial remarks at the idea of our little interracial marriage. The thought of such hatred bubbling in the veins of some who see RJ and I together is disturbing. And all the more when I think about that hatred that could be directed towards our unborn children one day.
Anyways, as I watched the video through my tears and with a huge smile on my face, both glad and sad at the same time, I marveled at the purity and innocence of those children. The genuine disbelief and the lens of innocence through which these children view their world is so remarkable and so beautiful, so simple and pure, that I can understand why Jesus loves the little children so dearly. Their hearts and minds haven’t yet been tainted with the hatred of the world. My hope and prayer is that they never are.
As the question-asker asked the kids, “If someone is watching this who thinks biracial parents is wrong, what would you say to them?” and “What about anyone watching who has to deal with racism in their life, or people who have biracial parents, where people give them a hard time about them, what would you say to them?”, as child after child gave their empathic exhortations to stay strong, to not lose heart, to ignore the haters, I nodded all the more vehemently in agreement, soaking in all of the genuine words of wisdom and encouragement from these kids, for me, for RJ and I, and for our children.
You see…to me, this video was more than just a feel-good piece. It was a wake-up call to the sobering fact that racism is still very much alive today, and has the potential to impact my own little interracial family.
At the same time, this video was a reminder of the hope of goodness, love, and acceptance for the world our children will grow up in.
Thanks, Cheerios, for taking this courageous step in featuring this family. And thanks, TheFineBros, for initiating this discussion with our youth on racism. It impacted me more than you’ll probably ever know.