Cheerios cereal helped my wife and I realize that we live happily in a bubble.
The brand recently caused controversy with a commercial that featured an African American dad, Caucasian mom and an adorable little girl. It’s an ad for Cheerios, plain and simple, just one featuring a multicultural family. However, some Americans apparently still feel threatened by marriage between races and ethnicities even in 2013.
This racist outrage caught me off guard. I am East Indian, though born and raised in the United States. My wife is a Caucasian American with a European and Native American lineage. We moved to New York City, in large part, to raise our children amid diversity such as ours.
Children teased me about my skin tone while I was growing up in a small town, and that made me extremely self-conscious. It made me a shy child and took many years to overcome. We would never want our children to feel singled out because of their ethnic background. That’s something we thought would be universal among all parents.
We were right about New York. Here, no one bats an eye at us as a family, though I occasionally get the strange look when I am with my kids alone because they look nothing like me. Otherwise, in a city so socially progressive that it accommodates all cultures, sexuality and every definition of “family” imaginable, we really don’t stick out. We’re spoiled and couldn’t be happier about it.
To me, the Cheerios commercial doesn’t feel like it is making a statement about multicultural families in America; it feels like it is selling cereal and, indirectly, featuring a major demographic in the process. I appreciate that. A new website recently launched in response to the backlash of the Cheerios ad, wearethe15percent.com, sites 2008 census data confirming that multicultural families represent 15% of families in this country (and that was 5 years ago).
I appreciate Cheerios handling of the racist outcry against the commercial even more, refusing to pull the ad and simply closing comments on the ad on YouTube and other web sites. That has made me a customer for life.
I do not want my kids to ignore their ethnic roots. Actually, quite the opposite. My children are lucky to have the rich cultures that come from both my wife and me. My 4-year-old has taken to talking about her color with a great deal of pride. She will tell anyone who will listen that, “Daddy is a lot brown, Mommy is light and I am tan.” She’s proud, confident, out-going and very well adjusted.
Plus she loves her Cheerios. Especially the fruit-flavored one with all the colors.