Monday, July 15, 2013

The 15 Percent

Back in June, General Mills premiered a new heart health Cheerios ad, just in time for Father's Day. The ad features this adorbs little girl that wants to know if Cheerios are good for your heart and later pours them all of her dad because she loves him so much and wants him to have a healthy heart.

Killer, right? Makes everybody want to go out and buy some Cheerios right away. Wrong. Apparently folks were all up in arms because the dad is black, the mom is white and the little girl is brown. Honestly, I was upset that people were upset, but to bring all that up now is about 6 weeks too late. There were a bunch of really great responses to the outrage from the somewhat explicit, but totally on point, Jezebel post that came out right after the video was released to the heart warming reaction of kids that came out today, but the one that really makes me proud to be biracial is the tumblr site, We Are The 15 Percent.

This site is a collection of lovely photos that are updated numerous times a day of biracial and multiracial families that have all been submitted by users. They are actively pulling together photos of families from across the US (and sometimes Canada) that showcase the love, beauty and 100% normalcy that is mixed race couples and families. It's the kind of site that makes you want to tell everyone about it because it's all about good.  Why the 15%? According to the a 2010 Pew study, 15% of new marriages are interracial - yes, FIFTEEN percent! The way I see it, that is awesome and it's only going up from there. We live in a world that is so accessible, where cultures are crossing borders and salsa outsells ketchup - pretty soon the site will need to be updated to the 16, 17 and 18%.

But you've probably already heard about all of these things because of Facebook and BuzzFeed and all kinds of things. Why do I care and why am I telling you again? Simply, I am the result of an interracial marriage from way before it was cool (oh hey, 1979, how's it hangin'?) and I am an active participant in an interracial marriage, helping to drive up that percentage rate.
My parents - trend setting since '79... white tux and all

Our wedding day - incorporating my Chinese heritage
As a gal that has lived in the US, Asia and Europe, in big cities and small towns, I noticed that while I relate to my Asian heritage all the time, the only place that I really fit in is the US. We are a nation full of folks like me - hodgepodges and mixies - I mean, even our president isn't just one ethnicity!  So for me, this ad was a big deal. When we have kids, I don't want them to ever wonder if they are less because they aren't all white or all yellow or all purple, I want them to grow up seeing themselves reflected in the media. When I was growing up, I don't remember a single show that had interracial couples, maybe interfaith, but never interracial; In drugstores, I wouldn't be able to find the right foundation because none of the shades matched up; to this day, I still have friends who were adopted from foreign countries by amazing families who had fantastic childhoods but never really felt like they fit in.

So starting now, with that Cheerios ad and that tumblr site, I hope things change. I hope that shows like Modern Family and the New Normal and Glee won't have to preach acceptance because people already get it. I'm part of the generation that grew up with a token black friend (or Asian or Hispanic), and now marries who we want despite cultural expectations, and will have kids in kindergarten classes with classmates more colorful than the rainbow. I am proud to be one of the 15%... and growing.

Love and Bacon,

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