Equity & Diversity

Children’s Cheerios Talk Provides Poignant Lesson on Race in America

By Karla Scoon Reid — July 21, 2013 1 min read
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When elementary school Principal Peter DeWitt wrote about the racist comments posted on YouTube about a Cheerios commercial for Education Week’s Finding Common Ground blog last month he talked about the advertisement’s “hidden curriculum.”

Now Fine Brothers Productions has released a video on YouTube showing children reacting to the commercial and the ensuing controversy following its airing.

The Cheerios commercial shows a biracial girl talking with her white mother about the heart-healthy benefits of eating the cereal. Then the commercial ends with an image of her black father waking up from a nap with a pile of Cheerios on his chest.

"(The commercial) provides a hidden curriculum to all children that families come in different sizes, with different types of parents and all of those families should be respected and honored,” DeWitt wrote.

But some YouTube users posted racist and derogatory comments about the commercial on its site and even asked General Mills, the company that makes Cheerios, to remove the ad from television. Thankfully, the commercial is still in heavy rotation and after you watch this Fine Brothers video, you’ll see why.

These children were at first puzzled and then stunned to hear that anyone would care about, let alone object to, the Cheerios commercial. One young girl was brought to tears. Another freckled-faced girl, well, let’s just say as a biracial mother of two black boys, I hope she runs for public office one day with comments like this one: “Stand proud for yourself. Be happy for your family. Tell them, I don’t care what you say.”

The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin is still heavy on the minds of many, including President Barack Obama. But these young people talking about a biracial family, very much like the one I grew up in, provide a glimmer of hope about the future of race relations in America.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.