Jean Barker

Mixed marriages: The Cheerios debacle

2013-06-06 08:09

I've been feeling a little sad about SA at the moment, and I sense the mood at home is a little low too. The weather is lousy. The Rand-Dollar exchange is lousy. Thanks to Oscar Pistorius our name is synonymous with murder instead of soccer for the first time since I came to the US.

But recently I was reminded that people are people wherever you go - in the good way like Lennon meant it and also in the bad way, when Cheerios released a series of commercials that roused America's white-wing racists.

Cheerios hasn't been in big trouble for their commercials since 2009, when the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) said their advertisements were misleading: "Based on claims made on your product's label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug."

Apparently Cheerios survived the case, because their latest series of advertisements promote the oat-based breakfast cereal as heart-healthy. In the US, a product that doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup, chicken faeces or petroleum is generally classified as a "natural" health food.

The "Cheerios' family"

To be fair to America, most of America seems to love the ad, even if its choice of shots and cinematography leaves a lot to be desired. It's all about the cute things that kids do when they understand life through love, and act on their love.

Of course, for a small group of racists, it was all about race. Quotes are hard to come by. Those that remain online have disguised their racism as humour or "discussion" although it's usually easy enough to tell where the comments come from. As usual, the racists were the loudest and most disgusting 2% of people and commented more than their share, as they do on all websites.

Not to diss websites: The best stuff came online from those who felt that America's ipso facto government had finally stood up for them.

What has been most ironically amusing? Well, for me, African American womanhood's furious reaction to the cute little girl's silky 'fro. From Facebook: "I cannot stand to see a mixed lil girl with her hair lookin' like that, but like I've said before, no offense white women, if you have a mixed child learn to do their hair or don't have one at all. I know it sounds bad but at least befriend a black woman who could teach you air do the hair for you."

Apparently naturally-worn black or as it's called here, "bi-racial" hair is unacceptable in America, particularly among African Americans, and must be restrained in corn-rows or cut short. I think it's cute, personally! But then again, I may be an evil white person.

Hair's a warning sign!

Speaking of hair, here's a warning: if you become an opponent of mixed marriages, you may end up with a man-rug even more laughable than Donald Trump's. Take RamzPaul, a political throwback with a blog and his own DVD, who wants to take America back to the days when blacks weren't so damn cheeky and white people interbred with white people. Aaaaahmerica!

In a speech laden with "theys", and Jim-Crow era political philosophy, Ramz proceeds to explain that liberals intend to "mush" us all together by making coffee-babies. But that will never work, he explains. Obama had a white mom, he says and yet...Obama identifies as black.

What this Z-list blogger doesn't get is this: It's the bullshit obsession with race that forces people to choose, or even to call themselves "bi-racial". It's racists that force human beings into a label. Racism says 1. You can not be a little bit black and still be white, but you can be a little bit white and still be black. It also says 2. You can be a little bit Asian and be white. But not a little bit white and be Asian.

Illogical? Yes, it's beyond ridiculous. So I say: the sooner we are all not white, or not anything in particular, the better. The sooner that happens, the sooner we share our histories. In fact, I'd even advocate interbreeding with Americans if need be.

Then, perhaps, we can find some original - and equally stupid reasons - to kill, hate, oppress and humiliate one another.

FYI: Cheerios stood by the advert. Good for them. They also removed the advertisement's comments (and deleted and closed comments on other adverts, where racists commented when they were cut off on the original advert.) Weirdly, the internet seems pretty free of quotes unless you dig around in neo-Nazi freak show sites...I guess the marketing department was quick to move on this one. Good for them.

- Jean is a screenwriting/directing dual MFA student in California, USA. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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