When a Cheerios internet commercial came out recently that featured an interracial family it was a test. And as a society we failed.
It was a simple message. Cheerios is heart healthy. For those of you who have not seen it, there is a link below and a summary of the commercial as well.
A mother sits at her kitchen table writing when her daughter walks up with a box of Cheerios.
“Mom,” says the girl. “Yes, honey?” says mom. “Dad told me Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?”
Mom looks at the box, and answers that it says the whole-grain oats inside are “heart healthy.”
The commercial picks up with dad asleep on the couch. He starts to wake up notices a pile of Cheerios on his chest covering where his heart is located.
The commercial sounds harmless enough and similar to other commercials aired in the past. The difference in this commercial is that the mom is white, the dad is black and the daughter is biracial. Disappointingly, the comment section had to be turned off due to the vitriol spouted by anonymous racists out on the internet. While the overwhelming majority was supportive of the commercial, I can only say I was saddened by the strong reaction of a few.
We have a ways to go. We struggle in our personal and work lives to be included. The idea that every citizen and employee should be able to feel valued, heard and have a safe place and a space available to them is an important one. This is one of the reasons we have discrimination lawsuits and engagement levels are so low. Those that spread hate make us all uncomfortable.
There is hope. My faith was restored when I watch a follow-up to the commercial (link below). When the commercial was shown to children not one of them could see anything wrong with the commercial. To say that these children were confused, stunned, and shocked when told what the reaction to the commercial was and why is an understatement. Here are some of their reactions:
“It’s just the color of their skin, what matters is if they’re nice or mean”
“I thought Martin Luther King spoke against this and fixed this already”
“Underneath it, you’re literally the same. You have organs and a heart.”
“Some people just fall in love like that.”
Leave it to the next generation to demonstrate the wisdom and caring that ours still needs to learn. Hopefully, they can out beautify the ugly spouted by those still living in a past world that lacked the understanding and value of others that differed from them. Hopefully the next generation will continue to make this world a more inclusive place where everyone has a safe place and a space to contribute. Thank you for restoring my hope.