Are You Ready for Post-Racial Cheerios?

It kilt me dead.

It kilt me dead.

Y’all gon’ have to give me a late pass for this one. But a few weeks ago, Cheerios dropped a commercial that featured a mixed-race couple (that don’t actually share any screen time together) and their hybrid child in an adorable spot highlighting children’s desire to keep their parents alive.

Let me tell you all something; I’m impressionable. I have GEICO insurance because those damn commercials entertained me so much. My HVAC guys? A company in DC who has a jingle that my daughter recited to me so I figured, hey, they must be good, they give good jingle. If you tell me something is good (and tell me something good) I’m liable to give it a shot because, again, I’m impressionable. So Cheerios dropping this commercial that shows that somebody said – in a meeting, no less – that America is more diverse now, let’s be more diverse has convinced me that I should buy more Cheerios. It also helps that my daughter, who has hair like that child, loves Cheerios. So they win by default.

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Company debuts commercial with mixed race parentage. Racists lose their sh*t. Nutcases come out of the woodworks. We live in interesting times, and this is part of the reason why print journalism is failing. Everything is a conversation. For many of us, our entire lives are centered around as much of ourselves as possible while still maintaining some semblance of privacy. Well within that, everybody becomes immediately accountable. Now, this accountability isn’t necessarily to any person in particular, but no bad idea goes unpunished. Look at the case with rap lyrics nowadays. There was a time not too long ago when you could say whatever the f*ck you wanted and there would be little to no real backlash short of sales. Well, now if you say something ridiculous, there are slews of people ready and willing to take you to task and mobilize, even for a short time. This all comes from the change to constant communication.

Well, this means that any loon with access to a computer (read: like almost everybody) can offer an opinion, unfiltered and with reckless abandon. So it stands to reason that the minute a commercial that includes a couple of racemixers (or swirlers…wait, are you only a swirler if you’re a Black woman? I really have no clue) hits the public sphere, the Stonewall Jackson supporters and Black folks who hate interracial love are going to make their opinions known. For a situation like this, the responses to the commercial dominate the conversation. Hell, Cheerios had to disable comments on that video because of some of the disgusting racist things that were said.

I know we elected Obama twice and all, but I’m sure we can all agree that the term post-racial isn’t an actuality. I think even the least racist person in the room would still immediately take notice of the fact that this child (who could have easily been used in a commercial with two Black parents and nobody would have thought twice about it) was referring to this white woman as momma. Part of that is that by the time something hits mainstream commercials, its somehow depicted as…normal. And I’m not sure we’re ready as a country to view interracial couples – namely Black and white since let’s be real, that’s the only place 90 percent of the outrage comes from in interracial dating – as normal.

Sure, interracial dating and marriage has seen significant increases over the past few decades. But it still bothers a lot of people since it hits on a lot of hot button issues for a lot of people.

Look, diversity is here. That sh*t is cool. It rocks. But its not without some broken eggs. Some Black and white men and women still feel some kind of way about seeing miscegenation. They just do. And they always will. It harkens back to the traditionalist view of society. While we don’t mind rooting for our favorite football team which just so happens to be full of Black folks, we don’t necessarily want them coming over for dinner. I remember growing up having this conversation. Remember, I went to high school in Alabama. Anyway, this conversation was about racism. It happened in one of my history classes and a few white students claimed very plainly to not have a single racist bone in their bodies. So one of my hombres, a Black dude, asked if any of them had any Black people in their homes. Ever. I kid you not, not one of them could say they had. Thing is, I don’t fault them. I’m sure most of the Black students could say the same thing though probably for different reasons. I’m not saying white people are more racist since I don’t really believe that to be true. But studies have shown that Black people tend to be more tolerant of diversity than white people, in general. This is nowhere more prominent than in housing.

Either way, the point of that is, while I know we’ve come a long way, I’m not sure people are fully ready to view something like interracial dating as a commonplace occurrence. Sure it’s just a commercial. But most commercials are supposed to be reflective of common life to get you to use common products. Most of us like our images of society held intact. But this is also why so many Black folks hate seeing big boneded Black women hawking chicken. For many of us, it does feel like nearly all commercials with Black folks trend towards stereotypes.

Then again, maybe we are all just stereotypes anyway. Hmmm…

At the end of the day, I think the commercial is cute. But I can’t pretend I don’t see how something as simple as a cereal commercial can stir up controversy and bring out the worst in people. There are some lines folks ain’t ready to cross yet. And its not just white people.

But when in doubt, as always, just blame Jim Jones. Or Tyler Perry. Actually, I’m surprised Tyler Perry hasn’t made a movie about interracial dating yet.

Where’s his number?

So what do you all think? Is it a big deal? Is America ready to view interracial dating, marriage, and procreation as the norm in mainstream society? OR, possibly more importantly, does the controversy over commentary on sites get overblown on stuff like this and for the most part, nobody really cares?

Talk to me. Petey.



So, She’s Down With The Swirl…And So Is She…And So Is She…And So Is She…And So Is She

Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana Have a Night Out at the Theater

I’m going to assume that the 25 to 40 year old Black people in my sphere of influence probably aren’t that much different than than the type of Black person a typical reader of VSB interacts with regularly. (Basically, the n*ggas I know are exactly like the n*ggas the rest of y’all n*ggas know.)

Why does this matter? Well, the statement I’m about to make is completely unscientific, completely unresearched, and completely dependent on anecdote and observation. You could even argue that I’m pulling it completely out of my ass. But, I doubt you’ll make that argument because, since the n*ggas I know are likely to be pretty much exactly like the n*ggas the rest of y’all n*ggas know, you’ll probably agree. You may not want to agree, but if you’re smart—and, if you’re reading this, you probably are—you will.

While the vast majority of the Black people I know date/marry other Black people, I personally know more Black women my age with White boyfriends/husbands than Black men my age with White girlfriends/wives…and I bet most of you do too. Actually, for me, using “more” is somewhat misleading because, well, I don’t know any. I mean, I know they exist. I occasionally hear about them on NPR, and sometimes I’ll see one or two waiting for jitneys outside of Giant Eagle, but I do not personally know any urban, educated, and employed Black guys—basically, Black guys like me—who date White women. Not one. But, I know at least 10 Black women with those traits who are currently dating or married to White men.

I’m not pointing this out because I think this is a bad thing. Or a good thing. Or an inbetween thing. It’s just a thing I’ve noticed…a thing that basically goes against everything we’ve read, heard, learned, and think we’ve seen, but just a thing nonetheless.

I’m going to leave you all with two questions, one I think I already know the answer to and another that still escapes me somewhat.

1. If you took a quick survey of the Black people you happen to know, could you have made this same observation? 

2. Why do you think this is? (I have my theories, but since I spent all weekend moving, I’ll let you all do the heavy lifting today.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)