If it’s true that we’re living in a post-racial America — as conservatives will constantly tell you — then putting up a cute little commercial with an interracial couple and their daughter selling breakfast cereal wouldn’t get noticed by anyone, right?
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.
Despite the hate, Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, told us in a statement, “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios ad. At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all.”
This does not surprise me at all. There are still a lot of people in this country who proclaim themselves to be completely race-free but still pass on the racist e-mails and still get worked up over the idea of “race-mixing” with integrated proms. Most of the examples that we see today come from people who are on the conservative side of the aisle. Yes, there are Democrats who pass on the same stupid e-mails. Racism can be equal opportunity. But the vast majority of them are from the right wing, and denying that is a part of the problem. Their usual excuse was either they didn’t know it was racist — “Honest, I swear!” — or they’re angry that some people just don’t have a sense of humor and can’t take a joke, or that “political correctness” is ruining our country.
Part of the problem is that we enable this kind of crap. We let a lot of people get away with it. It’s one thing to have an honest disagreement with someone over policy issues, but when you hear political leaders, including members of the House and Senate, accuse Barack Obama of being “arrogant” and “dismissive,” you’re not too far from saying that he’s “uppity” and doesn’t know his place. When you still have major party mouthpieces question his legitimacy to be president because of his place of birth — and yet claim that Sen. Ted Cruz, born in Canada, can be president — and when you hear people start a conversation with “I’m not racist, but,” you’re going to need more than just Cheerios to get your heart in the right place.