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Monday, June 10, 2013

What Century is it?: Inter/Multiracial Families Continue to Create Controversy

I was surprised, actually more like shocked, to read about the racist outburst in response to a new Cheerios ad featuring a multiracial family composed of a biracial girl, a white mother and a black father. (Disclaimer--I grew up in Canada so am often shocked by some of the political/social dynamics in the U.S.) See the ad here. Although "thumbs up" to the new ad outnumbered "thumbs down" by over 12 to 1, the vitriol of some of the comments led General Mills to shut down the comments on Youtube, although the ad will continue to air on TV.

Inter or multiracial families have become much more common in recent years.  For instance, a recent Pew Center research report indicated that interracial marriages grew from 3% in 1980 to 8.3 % in 2010.  Of course, this doesn't include the many non-marital families that include members of multiple races. And yet apparently they continue to be viewed by many as abnormal, or even wrong.

I am in the middle of a new book by Angela Onwuachi-Willig, According to our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family (see here).  Angela looks back, to the infamous New York case involving a "wealthy white blueblood" and the working-class woman of mixed-race background who married in 1924. In Part one of her book, Angela outlines their relationship and the later annulment trial.  Part two outlines some lessons from the Rhinelander case for black-white intimate relationships today.  Drawing on employment discrimination cases as well as interviews and polls, the book posits concludes that interracial families continue to be treated unequally. According to our Hearts is engrossing and a fascinating read, particularly given current events from Cheerios ads to pending marriage equality cases.

Posted by Cynthia Godsoe on June 10, 2013 at 02:27 PM | Permalink


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Cracked.com had a great explanation of the comments on the Cheerios commercial: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/why-cheerios-racism-controversy-was-bad-journalism/

tl;dr: The "Mikey Likes It" commercial has similar racist comments despite no interracial couple, and the Cheerios ad also has comments about Nazis and genocide (spoiler: neither Nazis nor genocide are in the Cheerios ad). Basically the comments have little or nothing to do with the commercial, and YouTube comments are just the internet's equivalent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Jun 10, 2013 2:58:05 PM

I've watched that commercial five times now, and there's one thing I can't figure out:

How did the dad sleep through the girl dumping an entire box of Cheerios on his chest? Anyone else think he might've been faking?

(Also: Is Rhinelander taught in most family law classes? Any of 'em?)

Posted by: SparkleMotion | Jun 10, 2013 3:50:52 PM

This story comes close on the heels of the story from Virginia about the Wal Mart shopper who saw a White father with his mixed-race children (his wife is African-American) and reported it as "strange" to a security guard, who called police. Police showed up at the man's house to ensure that they were, in fact, his children:


Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 10, 2013 7:23:00 PM

The Walmart story is sadly similar to my African American friend's experience. She is frequently asked whether she is the "nanny" of her mixed-race sons. Plus ca change...

Posted by: Cynthia Godsoe | Jun 12, 2013 1:26:21 PM

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