Which Kinds Of Interracial Couples Spark Outrage?
Last year, the cereal brand Cheerios released a commercial that featured an interracial couple and their biracial daughter. The racist backlash against seeing a black man with a white woman was so severe that Cheerios had to disable comments on its YouTube account. During the Super Bowl this year, the brand double-downed on its efforts to be reflective of a diverse nation and released a second commercial featuring the same family. In the new ad, the mother is pregnant with the couple’s second child. This commercial was marked with far less backlash.
This set of advertisements reflects the increase of interracial marriages in America, but Cheerios is not the first brand to have such a couple in its commercials. Many brands over the last several years have had ads that feature black women with white men, and yet they didn’t cause anywhere near the level of controversy as the Cheerios ads. Why does seeing a black man with a white woman stir up a hornet’s nest of racism, but not the reverse? America’s history is rich with fear of black male sexuality, as evidenced in cultural markers such as the silent film Birth of a Nation and the brutal death of Emmett Till, a teenager accused of whistling at a white woman. However, the interracial pairing of a black woman with a white man doesn’t seem to raise the same kind of alarms. Perhaps it’s because black women dating white men has been promoted as panacea for all the alleged problems black women face when it comes to dating.
In 2009, the dating website OkCupid released data suggesting that black women get the fewest responses, even from black men. The data launched a thousand blog posts and articles, some urging black women to date outside of their race in order to find more mates. The idea is that the more educated or the more successful black women become, the fewer opportunities they have to date black men, and therefore, they should expand their dating pool. It’s another more analytical, less stereotypical way of saying black men aren’t worthy enough to date so turn to someone else.
In film and television, including commercials, there is an increasing number of black women-white men couples that air with little debate. People may notice but there’s nothing on the level of the Cheerios fiasco. Although the popular television show Scandal raises some eyebrows over its main couple — the interracial pairing of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) — it’s produced more finger-wagging because of the characters’ acts of infidelity, not because of their races.
Continue reading story by on TPM.