No disrespect to General Mills, but this we roll in the Diver household.
I had a dream last night that I was wandering down the cereal aisle at my local CVS and saw a sign: "Cheerios 2 for $4." The shelves--what someone might see the night before a major natural disaster, Y2K, or Armageddon--were pretty much cleaned out except for one, lonely, sad box all the way in the back of the top shelf which I couldn't reach.
And then I woke up.
Just a few days ago while attending TEDxBoston, someone asked: "So what's all this Cheerios stuff about anyway?" I explained how Cheerios placed a commercial on Youtube depicting an interracial couple and biracial child. After confirming with her mother that Cheerios are "heart healthy" we see the father on a couch, awakened to Cheerios poured all over the left side of his chest (he does let out a little scream at the end, is he saying "Jan"?).
it appears people don't like seeing a commercial that involves a white actor, a black actor and a biracial child. Like any good capitalistic society, Americans responded to show their solidarity and support of interracial families through articles, blogs, commercial spoofs, websites, and yes, buying Cheerios.
But here are three reasons why I'm not buying them; the product or the claims.
First, because I'm not paying $4-$5 for a box of (processed) cereal. Call me cheap, call me stingy, call me "not down with the struggle," but I think name brand (processed) cereal prices are getting way out of control for the average household (unless you are the coupon whisperer or live near a Wal-mart or buy your groceries on Amazon.com). Which leads me to my next reason.
Second, because I grew up on generic food, Latin, and British brands. I have no loyalty to Cheerios. As a child, the fact that we bought so many "off brand" items (except for beer and processed meats) reinforced the stark differences between the world inside of my Nigerian, immigrant household and the urban, American life I lived once I walked out of our front door. I wondered why the staples we picked up from the store and kept in our refrigerator and cupboards looked, smelled and tasted so different from the food I saw on television commercials or my friends' lunch boxes (I mean have you ever seen a commercial, in America, on an English-speaking network, for cow's tongue? I rest my case).
My parents rarely bought "fun junk food" like Oreo cookies, Lays potato chips, Chef Boyardee or Spaghetti O's. And for a good chunk of my childhood I had "orange drink" instead of orange juice; and what would a good, 1980s, African party be without a cooler the size of a coffin or a trash can big enough for a child to fall into, stuffed to the gilds with ice and the full panoply of Shasta soda cans and a few Huggies thrown in for good measure? I don't share the America = Cheerios ethos and nostalgia. Do I identify an American upbringing with Cream of Wheat? Yes. Weetabix? Yes. Bird's Custard, Ovaltine, and Milo? Yes. Cheerios? No, not so much.
And third, because I don't think Cheerios will unclog my arteries.
Aside from babysitting, my first "job" at the age of 13 was volunteering at Washington Hospital Center where my mother worked for several decades as a Respiratory Therapist. My assignment? The Cardiac Catheterization Lab where I kept charge over the waiting room while families read, paced, prayed, and waited nervously for loved ones to emerge from procedures that unblocked arteries and restored bloodflow to the heart. Now I did a lot of eavesdropping that summer and overheard a lot of conversations and advice to prevent repeat visits: exercise...oatmeal...Coumadin. But no, can't say I ever heard the cardiologist prescribe Cheerios.
But what I can appreciate about "Cheerios-gate" is how it serves as a reminder of an important reality amidst many drinking the proverbial post-racial Kool-Aid: that yes, while in the words of
Hillary Clinton James Cleveland we've "come too far from where we've started from," we still have a ways to go.