Guest Post: The One and Only

by Lavern Merriweather

Perhaps, I’m a little oversensitive or reading way too much into this but there is something about the latest Cheerios commercial that really, really bugs me. And it’s not even just the commercial itself, but the one that immediately follows it. In the first commercial you have a father with his infant son in a high seat who pours some Cheerios cereal for his son on the tray of his high chair. Then, the father steps away momentarily as another little boy, also his son, comes along and snatches away some of his little brother’s treat. When the dad returns, he says “the Cheerios bandit got you again” as the baby son laughs.

After that commercial, there is another one featuring a young white mother with her infant daughter. In the second commercial there is no older child to come along and steal from the younger sibling. It’s just mommy and her daughter sharing a ‘moment’. In the words of Dana Carvey “Well isn’t that special!”

Obviously the parents in both commercials are very loving and protective of their children since they are in high chairs that feature seat belts. Yet, in only one there is a criminal element. In spite of what those 90’s Sprite commercials would have you believe image is everything when you are young, black and growing up in America where you have to spend most of your life going damn near out of your way to find any representations of yourself that are even remotely positive and getting no help at all from the brains at Madison Avenue.

Self-esteem, especially at a young age, is a very important thing, even more so to those who only get negative reinforcement any time they watch the news, turn on a TV, pop in a DVD or open up a magazine. Hell, most of the magazine covers tell a tale of how invisible black people are and if we are not invisible, then we are only shown in a bad light. I’m reminded of the Vanity Fair controversy where less than a month after featuring a whites only article and photo spread of up-and-coming movie starlets, they turn right around and put Tiger Woods on the cover with no shirt an angry scowl on his face and a black skull cap. He looked like an out-of-place gangbanger who got lost on the way to a carjacking.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, people. The white males who run the advertising game want to do everything humanly possible to inform us of what a bunch of worthless, lowlife, despicable degenerates we truly are. I remember long ago on the classic show Soul Train where comedian Arsenio Hall made a joke about the difference between fast food commercials with white people and black people. He said why is it that in the commercials with white people they just come in and order food but in the commercials with black people that have to do a musical number complete with singing and dancing. So, according to Mcdonald’s, ordering a burger for black people is way too boring. They have to turn it into a production of ‘Porgy and Bess’.

It’s basically that way with 99 percent of advertisements. Our shit has to have some element they wouldn’t dream of using with white people and vice-versa. I very rarely see black people or POC period in commercials for fancy expensive cars. Yes, they do exist, but the majority of people starring in those commercials are mostly white and young. That’s some serious food for thought, and I’ll bet if anyone reading this thinks about it hard enough they can come up with their own examples, because trust me, they are out there.

However, we spend so much time disregarding them because we are told to not play the ‘race card’ so much and that we are far too paranoid. Wow, I can’t even BEGIN to imagine why that is! Could it be that we have had so many decades upon decades of the dominant culture telling who us we are and what we are supposed to be? It’s like that scene in the Oscar winning movie Crash where actor Tony Danza who plays a Hollywood producer of a hit TV show feels he has the right to tell opposite Terrence Howard, who plays a writer for the show, how a young black male would ‘really’ speak. Well, I guess if you watch enough What’s Happening episodes, that must pretty much make you an expert on black folks, huh?

Black people know how the game is played yet we keep falling for it. Many of our most beloved programs were made by people that are just like the character played by Mr. Danza, and so are most of the commercials, which is why I don’t like the current one from Cheerios. What you might call paranoid I call just paying very close attention.

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8 thoughts on “Guest Post: The One and Only

  1. Well good looking out Lavern. I never gave the commercial a second thought. But now that you mention it. I will just have to pay more attention.

    1. Yes the first family is a black man with his two sons although I do think they deserve some props for that.

  2. I have to tell ya, that commercial bothered me too when I first saw it but not for the same exact reason that it bothered you. I just didn’t like the idea of a parent knowing that his kid was stealing and not do anything about it.

    I’m not so sure though that Madison Ave. advertising execs are responsible for this way of thinking nowadays…….I happen to have a boss who thinks it’s cute when her 2 yr. old daughter throws things that can hurt, on purpose, at her older brother.

    I just think a lot of folks these days don’t have a clue what’s right and wrong anymore and care about it even less.

  3. OMG if you look for negative, you find negative. It’s all about how one thinks. I think it would be very tiring having a mindset like that all the time. Maybe that’s one reason tension of the races remains. My daughter had a black boy in class in middle school. His mom told him not to talk to her anymore b/c she was making him too white. Really? One of my best friends is black. We don’t think that way. We just love.

    1. In other words, if we POC, the victims of racism, would shut up about racism, then it will cease to continue. Okay. You realize that’s like telling a victim of sexual assault to get over it.

      And white people “just love” you say? That’s not what reality and history has told me. From endless accounts, white people will only “just love” you if you are white too.

  4. I’m on the fence @ the 2 aforesaid commercials bc I can’t tell either way, but I will say I am the 1st to notice discrimination after getting it from blacks AND whites for most of my life, but I also despise folx playing the race card at the 1st jump too. Anyway, I was just thinking I wonder if the latest Cheerios commercial with the white mother, biracial young daughter, & black father is a response to possible similar complaints such as yours…or just another family commercial. All I know is I just saw it for the 1st time & the reason I found your post was bc I was searching for Cheerios contact info to THANK them for making the FIRST American biracial nuclear family on a commercial (or any ad for that matter) I’ve EVER seen in my life AND it wasn’t the typical romance novel type where the man must always be white & the woman black, which to me recalls days of old where that was acceptable but not vice-versa and also won’t offend certain black women who subscribe to the racist notion that white women are taking from the short supply of ‘their’ men…as if humans have owners, how ironic. In conclusion, boy, do we have our own unique set of racism issues in the U.S. that nowhere else could begin to comprehend…sadly.

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