Cultural Competence: Do you see yourself in biracial Cheerios family?

From Dr. Wayne Baker: Our guest writer this week is Joe Grimm, a journalism professor at Michigan State University and editor of a new series of guides to cultural competence. Here’s Joe Grimm …

How about a little controversy in your bowl of Cheerios? A commercial depicting a mixed-race family in which the daughter, off camera, pours Cheerios on her sleeping father set off a wave of protests that seemed to have been drowned out by the backlash, according to AdWeek.

The website Racialicious reports that negative comments prompted a closing of the comments on the video, although people rushed to support mixed races eating breakfast.

Comedians posted a YouTube parody.

Cheerios stood by its depiction of families eating oat loops.

Support for that portrayal reflects Americans’ growing acceptance of biracial families. That seems to tie into the upcoming book by Wayne Baker on core American values, which he started to raise the curtain on in his June 21 column.

According to a Pew analysis of U.S. Census data, about 15 percent of all new marriages in 2010 were between people of different races or ethnicities. In 1980, the figure was less than half of that. Of course, that means more of us live in more diverse families. Every marriage changes families for dozens. Pew reported that more than a third of Americans say that an immediate or close relative is married to someone of a different race.

The Pew study found that almost two thirds of Americans say it’s fine with them if someone in the family marries outside their racial or ethnic group. When we want to learn more about cultures—however we choose to define that—we don’t have to look as far. Sometimes, the answers are just across the breakfast table.

The Read the Spirit/Michigan State Journalism School series on cultural competence is meant to help with groups who are not at the breakfast table.

Is your family becoming more diverse? In what ways?

How does having more diversity in the family increase cultural competence?

Do you talk about your similarities formally or informally?


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  1. Jane Wells says

    I love this commercial!
    Seriously, I don’t get the fuss. That little girl is almost as adorable as my niece and nephew are, the products of my sister’s mixed-race marriage.
    All this uproar. So ridiculous.

  2. Joe Grimm says

    Thanks, Jane. Some have seen the comments over this as an example of how social media commenting can give one side more prominence than research says exists — and then an example of how response to that can turn the story around.

    It has been interesting to watch, for sure.

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