04 June 2013

Touche Cheerios

The new Cheerios AD and the controversy around it has really ignited a fire within me. Being a interracial person myself, in a interracial relationship, with interracial children this entire topic speaks deeply to my heart.

Growing up I dealt with my fair share of racial remarks and awkwardness. My mom being of African American/Native American decent always left people puzzled with her choice in men (white), music (country) and way of speaking ("proper"). And my father (a white guy) being quite the opposite adored his African American women, rap music, beat boxing and break dancing. They "broke the molds" of what people thought they should be and this left me one very confused little girl.

 I grew up me. I never identified myself as black, Native American or white; I was just me. I talked like me, I walked like me, I listened to the music I liked and dated the people whom I was interested in. However it wasn't very long into my life that I realized I was different. 

In some instances I never seemed to fit in. In middle school and high school I hated life. I was too "black" for the white kids and too "white" for the black kids. The small town in Iowa that I lived during my high school years was very segregated. The west side of town was white and the east side of town being black. I attended my first year of high school on the west side where I quickly realized that although my skin was lighter than most black people it was still dark enough to be considered black and this left me an outsider. After my freshman year I moved to the east side of town thinking things would be better and in fact they were worse. I was much to "white" for this side of the community with my proper English, ballet skills, and "good hair". In the black community I seem to be prized by men and hated by women. 

One area that has always been of annoyance to me is the need for me to identify my racial preference. On college and job applications there are always those plaguing boxes that ask you to identify your race; and until recently they always had just one choice. I always had a hard time choosing between the two races wondering if I had a better chance of getting into the college if I checked "African American" because I would be a minority, and on the other hand I wondered if checking Caucasian for the job applications would better ensure me a phone call or interview. My whole life I have been bombarded with the annoying question of "What are you?" like I am some mutt dog in which they are trying to identify it's breed, like knowing this information will help them understand my temperament or life longevity. 

As I have grown older and matured I have seemed to be able to just take the occasional occurrences of biracial remarks and glaring stares as my husband and I walk hand in hand at the grocery store. They have seemed to fade over time, which I have just attributed to the growing acceptance and change in mindset of the world...until recently.

Just 17 short months ago I gave birth to the most amazing little boy. My daughter was born just a 1 1/2 years earlier and she has slowly adapted into the most perfect mix of me and my husband. She is lighter than me but not as light as my husband, with the biggest brown eyes and soft bouncy brown curls; a gorgeous bi-racial little girl. My son on the other hand has grown into the most handsome Caucasian skinned, blonde haired, blued eyed little boy. As you can imagine this leaves many people staring questioningly. One time I took my daughter to the play area at our local mall when my son was just a few months old. I had been getting a lot of questionable stares from the time we arrived and I knew people were wondering if this little white baby was mine, if I was his sitter, or had I stole him. Needless to say people weren't confused as soon I wrapped myself up in a nursing blanket and latched him on. The looks of total amazement that this little boy was actually mine was astonishing. 

Just recently I was out for a run with the kids and was approached by two women walking the same trail I was. They were lovely women, very kind and super in love with the kids. They cooed and cawed at how adorable they both were, telling me how beautiful Kaydence's curls were and how jealous they were of her long lashes. When they got to my son they were just as thrilled at his adorableness and so proud of me for "adopting". Quote: "You adopted, good for you!" I kindly told the women that my son in fact came from my vagina and thanked them as I quickly went back to running. I have since then encountered 2 more people inquiring into if I adopted Kameron, because no way can this "black" girl have a "white" baby like that. 

My new personal encounters with the inter-racial ignorance as well as the recent news of the man who was accused of kidnapping his own kids because of the difference in their skin color has wavered my faith in the progress that I once thought we had. And then upon hearing the awfulness that has surrounded the new Cheerios commercial featuring the bi-racial family has made me realize that we as a country still have a very long way to go. 

I really thought by the year 2013 when we have a black president of our country, that a very cute and harmless commercial featuring a bi-racial family would truly be  UN-news worthy; but apparently I am wrong. 

I love the new commercial and as a bi-racial person myself I am proud and very happy to finally start seeing more bi-racial families like my own depicted in the real world; because believe it or not, we do exist!

Touche Cheerios!

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