Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Struggle Continues


The Cheerios commercial above tells the story of a little girl who pours cereal on her sleeping dad's chest in a well meaning attempt to help his heart.  What was meant to depict a sweet little moment of loving concern, in order to sell breakfast cereal, has turned into a PR nightmare for General Mills.

The commercial, featuring a mixed race couple and their daughter, has motivated two entirely different camps to send tens of thousands of complaints to the food manufacturer.
  • White supremacists complained, in mass, about the depiction of a mixed race couple as being acceptable.
  • A portion of African American women complained, in mass, that such depictions typically feature Caucasian females and African American males, rather than vice versa.
Sadly, the first group of nay sayers barely surprised me.   Their reaction is another symptom of a recently revived sickness infecting this country.  As recently as 2011, Minnesota legislators proposed passage  of a bill which would've resegregated public schools by race.

A year later, similar minds in South Carolina tried to make possession of a government-issued photo I.D. mandatory in order to vote.  This sounds reasonable until one takes into account the fact that, "an estimated 81,983 voters in South Carolina do not possess a government-issued photo ID, mainly because of missing or inaccurate personal documents. These are mostly elderly, black longtime residents."

Southern conservatives are literally trying to revive Jim Crow in order to, "take their country back."  "Back from what?" I would ask.  Back from tolerance, equality, and brotherhood?  Are these really things to be overcome?

True, we white folk had it nice when, "everyone knew their place."  We had first crack at good jobs, public bus seating, and restaurant food among other perks of our perceived birthright.  The price of these luxuries was merely the subjugation of an underclass based on race.

The price seemed cheap to us.  As long as the underclass entertained us by singing Mammy, then politely left by the back door, we didn't have to look into the eyes of those being turned away from white hospitals, being corralled to the back of the bus, and being denied the right to vote or attend adequately funded schools.

Yes, ignorance truly was bliss.  It's not something we should look to return to though.  It's a state of affairs we should constantly struggle to remain above.

As for the second group of objectors, I'd ask if they remember the Willises from The Jefferson's?  Tom was Caucasian and Helen was African American.  More recently, on the big screen, a Caucasian appearing Spock courts, Swahili born, Lt. Uhura.

Even if these inverse examples didn't exist, the depiction of any mixed race couple, by a multi-billion dollar corporation, is a positive thing.  Anything that shows races interacting peacefully, even lovingly, should be scene as a positive message, saying people are people despite our physical differences.

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