When I poured my bowl of Cheerios this morning for breakfast, I did not realize that I was making a political statement. I did not know that by eating these delectable little oats, I was standing up for my marriage. Silly me, I thought I was just having breakfast. You may be confused right now, if you have not been paying attention to the news cycle over the past week. To catch you up, Cheerios released a commercial on their YouTube channel that featured an interracial couple with a biracial little girl. The commercial sparked a myriad of racist comments and impassioned rebuttals that led the host of the YouTube channel to turn off the comments section and to remove all previously posted comments. If you have not seen the commercial, you can watch it here.
The purpose of the commercial was to inform the public “that Cheerios has whole grain oats that can help remove some cholesterol,” which can ultimately lead to having a healthier heart. This is an important message and one that, in the context of our fast food society, should not be taken lightly. According to the Center for Disease Control , “71 million American adults have high LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol.” Also, “people with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart disease as people with optimal levels [of cholesterol].” General Mills and the Cheerios brand were simply trying to do their part to help combat this issue, and used this brief and informative commercial to let us know that their product, on a small scale, could help reduce the risk of high cholesterol.
So what is the problem? The problem is that the commercial featured a cute little girl with kinky curls who had a white mom and a black dad. The point of the commercial was to talk about cholesterol. It is quite a shame that this message was completely missed, because in 2013, there are still people in this country who take issue with interracial relationships, specifically those between Blacks and Whites. Had a family of one race be featured, no one would have said a word about the commercial. I would venture to say that if another interracial relationship had been represented, like Asian and White or Black and Hispanic, there would not be this much pushback. In fact, I imagine a lot of people would have headed to their local grocery store to pick up a couple of boxes of Cheerios in hopes of fixin’ the ol’ ticker (rather than heading to a local gym). What if a homosexual couple was featured in this commercial? The country would probably applaud General Mills and the Cheerios brand for taking a stand for marriage equality.
What transpired on the Cheerios YouTube page is to be expected in a country with such deep-seated roots of negative race relations between Blacks and Whites. Considering my own history with racism, I am certainly not shocked that there are still many people out there that covertly harbor hate for people that look like me. I do not write this post in anger toward those cowards that chose to express their hate-filled words concerning those in interracial relationships. I write this post as a believer in Christ who not only identifies with the people in this commercial, but also sees a far deeper issue.
Racism at its core goes far past poor race relations between Blacks and Whites in this country. It goes deeper than Civil Rights and Southern slavery. Racism is a sin issue, and one that must be addressed from a position of prayer. As a black man who is married to a white woman and will have biracial children, I must see this situation from a spiritual perspective. It was not simply a group of racist people that caused such a firestorm over this commercial; it was a group of sinners in need of a Savior who shed His own blood so that he could gather “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (from Revelation 7:9, ESV).
Followers of Christ serve a God that welcomes and celebrates racial diversity. In Christ’s Great Commission to the twelve disciples before His ascension, He charged them to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (from Matthew 28:19, ESV). Paul in his opening statements to the church at Rome wrote “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, ESV). In other translations of the Bible, the word “Gentile” appears in place of the word “Greek,” which then describes all those that are non-Jews.
From the beginning of time, God had it in His plan to bring all of the peoples of the world together. On the other side of eternity, there will be no racism. There will be no hatred or harsh words toward people who are different. There will be no judgment of others. There will only be a people; one people, gathered around the throne of King Jesus, singing praises to Him in one accord for all of eternity.
Until then, I will pray for those that are blinded by the “god of this world” into thinking that racism is OK. I will pray that they have an encounter with my gracious and loving Savior, who celebrates the differences displayed in all people throughout His creation. I will pray that the truth of the Gospel will transform their hearts to the point where they cry out in repentance. I will pray that they be so transformed that a commercial featuring an interracial couple with a biracial child would not offend them, but remind them of a future glory that is yet to be revealed.
I will pray…and eat my Cheerios!