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A Note to the Cheerios Ad Haters

Filed under : News, Parenting, Product, The Vent, family

By Mary Targia Almonte I am Biracial. Much like the child displayed in that Cheerios ad that you all ripped to shreds – only my mother is Black and my father is White.  Being biracial was not so comfortable while growing up in the 1980s/1990s in a place as racially monolithic as Staten Island, NY was at the time.  Allow me to describe… Being Biracial meant never fitting in anywhere.  It meant listening to family members awkwardly explain their kinship to you to their puzzled friends upon introduction.  It meant having a complete stranger walk up to your father and punch him in the face, breaking his nose, simply because he didn’t like the fact that your dad was a White man walking down the block hand in hand with a Black woman.  It meant dealing with the disapproving stares at the supermarket, playground, etc. when out with your family. Growing up biracial meant having classmates assume that I was adopted, since I didn’t share the complexion range of either of my parents, and everyone was too ignorant to look beyond the color of our skin.  It meant being taunted as a child – being call a zebra, Oreo, half –breed, among other things.    It meant not being Black enough for the Black kids and not being White enough for the White kids, and trying so very hard to play the role in chameleon-like fashion, unsuccessfully.   As I embarked upon young adulthood and the dating scene, it meant having romantic prospects inquire about “what I am” before making any inquiries that would give them an inkling of WHO I am. Then, as I entered motherhood in the past decade or so, an amazing thing happened: there were more of us!  I couldn’t help but notice the other interracial families as I dropped my daughter off at school or my son at daycare and breathing a sigh of relief at the realization that they would be spared the negative experiences that outlined my childhood.  My ten year old daughter simply identifies herself as “brown”, and I have hoped that no further explanation would be required for her in the future as she comes of age and her peers will become aware of racial differences.  I exhaled when the Census, Board of Ed, and employment racial identification documents FINALLY included the “two or more races” option (in my younger years  I would either check both the “Black” and “White” boxes or “Other” and would still feel as if somehow that question was a test that I failed).  Many mixed-race celebrities have come to the forefront of pop culture, and there have been countless interracial celebrity couples openly displaying their affection gracing the pages of the tabloids.  It finally seemed like we had found our place in society. The Cheerios ad was an affirmation of this.  You guys weren’t supposed to flinch or have had to think twice; this was a casual depiction of a modern day American family.  For me, it was heartwarming both in its progressive portrayal of a family of differing shades and, race aside, actual content.  However, after scrolling down the page expecting to see positive, supportive commentary from the public, I shockingly saw quite the opposite.   There were so many vicious, nasty, outright offensive comments posted that General Mills had to disable the option to comment altogether.   I applaud their decision to stand by the ad and not yank it altogether.  However, witnessing the world’s disapproval of a family that so closely mirrored my own really stung.  Here I was thinking that society had evolved and that, sure -there are a few jerks out there, but the masses had risen above the ignorance.  Our own President is a product of interracial love, for crying out loud!  Those comments made it abundantly clear that we clearly have not come as far as I thought.  This realization was truly a dagger in my heart…for a second. Despite all of the above, I still believe in the goodness of our society and the principles upon which this country was founded.   I believe that my very existence is a living testament to the American dream.  I will hold on to this belief, and I won’t let my faith waver.  I will not fear the world that I am raising my kids in – I will embrace it.  You see, there is really only one way to snuff out the cancerous ignorance spewed by morons like you: to love.   To continue to bring more products of this love into the world and build families until one day everyone will be so “mixed” that race won’t even be a topic of discussion anymore.  In the meantime, kudos to Cheerios for deciding to celebrate ALL families… and shame on you.

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