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Why I Love the Mixed-Race Family in the Cheerios Ad

Recently, a new Cheerios cereal commercial hit the airwaves and the hearts of many viewers, including mine. A sweet little brown girl with tight curls, a white mom and black dad took over the television screen and, within a 30-second spot, gave me hope that our country can become the racial utopia I wish it to be.

Alas, racist commenters on YouTube quickly deflated that vision.

You wouldn't think Cheerios, the iconic American cereal brand, to be the catalyst of conversation for modern American families, but its commercial featuring a mixed-race couple and their biracial daughter has created plenty of controversy. Racist commenters have come out in droves to express their disdain for this heart healthy campaign. So much so, that Cheerios suspended the YouTube comment section for the ad, saying, "We are a family brand and not all of the comments were family-friendly." Regardless of the racist reactions by some, the commercial won't be going away. According to a USA Today interview with General Mills' Camille Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, the brand does not plan to stop airing the commercial, nor remove it from its YouTube channel.

Notwithstanding YouTube, the mixed-race family Cheerios commercial fared well with Americans, according to an Ace Metrix survey of more than 500 consumers. Winning high scores, "The ad scored best with African-Americans ... followed by Asian Americans and Hispanics." And that's great news for mixed-race families, even for those of us who do not include a white partner, like the Cheerios ad does.

Being a Latina mom in America with the goal of instilling my Latino heritage in my children, I'm inherently creating a bicultural identity for my children. Coupled with an interracial marriage, the challenge of raising children with a healthy personal identity is only magnified. Any mainstream exposure that creates a positive image of diversity and multiculturalism is a benefit to families like mine.

But how does the Cheerios family translate to mixed Latino American perspectives? With a brown Latina mom and a black African American dad, how do my kids fit into the scope of Latino American identity?

I'm happy to learn that Hispanics scored the Cheerios ad well according to marketing surveys, but I'm not naïve to the tendencies of Latinos to lust after light skin, straight hair and blue eyes. Do Latinos really see the beauty in that tiny biracial actress? Do they see the innocence and pride in my child when she proclaims, "Mamá, soy Latina como tu" even though she may not look Latina to some? With racial views like "mejorando la raza" still prevalent, my hope for the Cheerios ad goes deeper than the black and white debate of modern American families. My hope is that my Latino community is listening, too.

Watch the Cheerios "Just Checking" ad:

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