Understanding Why the Cheerios Ad Hurt Black Women

“De nigger woman is de mule uh de world” -Zora Neale Hurston.

Recently, Cheerios released a new ad. It opens with a young biracial girl talking to her white mother about her black father’s health. It closes with the mother confirming that cheerios is indeed good for the heart and the father waking up covered in cheerios. It’s a really cute ad. So, why is it under fire?

While it may reflect the changing look of the American family, for some this “new look” actually digs up centuries of pain, self-hate, and a reminder of what used to be true beauty (and what is still preferred, though slightly less so).

I’d like to point out that it’s not wholly the interracial element. Please remember Nivea had a lovely commercial where a black woman rocking her natural curly fro was kissed all over by her white man. So, the point isn’t: one black face, one white face. It’s to whom these faces belong.

As a black woman, I cannot count all of the times I have spoken to black women who believe that a black man dating a white woman is still one of the worst betrayals to the black community. And this is not relegated to a “kind of black woman.” From women who have attained high educational levels to women still navigating the halls of middle school, we cannot help but to take it just a bit personal when members of our community jump ship.

It was frustrating pre-Civil Rights Era when black men were killed for even making eye contact with white women. It was frustrating post-Civil Rights era when they seemingly forgot all of the atrocities the black community suffered at the hands of women who suffered “jungle fever.” It was frustrating when they were the prize, the ultimate symbol of beauty, the sign of status, and we were the women who carried you through and yet we were the women abandoned.

“You stay right girl, and when he get on and leave ya ass for a white girl.” -Kanye West

This is an ongoing struggle within our community and regardless of whether the rest of America likes it or not it is the job of the advertiser to understand the baggage that viewers digest their message with. Context is, always has been, key to how well an advertisement works.

I can understand why this commercial came under fire and others who don’t should research our history a little more and drop the idealistic attitude that love is just love because we are still fighting over those definitions today. Love is not just love when a black man loves a white woman. It’s a pain for black women who are reminded that although we achieve high levels of success, raise children, and can still get home and cook you the greens your momma used to make, our kinky hair, dark eyes, and thick lips still aren’t what you want.

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Categories: Article, Editorial


I absolutely love to write! I am a Journalism and Political-Science Dual-Degree at Rochester Institute of Technology. I hope to inspire all of my readers to better their own lives and to be proactive in their communities. There is nothing more important, or more rewarding, than giving back!


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6 Comments on “Understanding Why the Cheerios Ad Hurt Black Women”

  1. Carter
    May 11, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

    Luke 10:27- “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So many people in this world need to crack open a bible, as with this Cheerios ad, certain companies need to look before doing this kind of thing. People need to put themselves in other peoples shoes.

  2. Sarah
    August 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    This post is very sad. This commercial was about a pretty little girl who loves her Daddy. That he happened to fall in love and be attracted to a white women is not reflection on your own looks, its just who that guy happened to fall in love with. I liked how it was causal and normal, the way it should be. I know many biracial couples and no one cares.

    You need to get away from the idea that the “commercial” idea of beauty is what everyone thinks is beautiful. For example, I am gay, but I am far more attracted to women who look like Rosie O’Donnell than Kate Upton. Big boobs and fake hair don’t really do it for me. Some people it does, and that’s cool too.

    Maybe you have kinky hair and big lips, but there are MANY guys (and girls) of all colours and shapes and sizes who will find that SUPER hot. Cause it is. What makes you beautiful is owning what you got and working it. Don’t think cause a black man likes a white women its a reflection that YOU are not good enough. You are. That guy just happens to be into something else. That’s cool.

    Go find a guy who likes the way YOU look, and moreover, who YOU are. I guarantee that whatever you look like, there are plenty of people who are into that.

    • August 5, 2013 at 3:16 am #

      Hey Sarah! I agree with you! And I love that you go “against the grain” so to speak.

      The point of the post is to provide historical context and yes we should say someone will love us but when you strike out over and over again with people who are in our “same boat” it can hurt!

      I would recommend you check out the movie Dark Girls, it’s the freaking best documentary to give a perspective from black woman, and deals with colorism! It was on Oprahs channel.

      Black women are the most uncoupled race of women. And we feel it. We are the least likely to married and I wish I could link it, but I’m on my ipad.

      I love you’re powerful advice, but I think sometimes its hard for women to keep hearing that and then it never come to fruition.

  3. June 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Each and all must define themselves distinct from culture and family, but the first step is recognition of and even respect for the culture and family that is your reality. My concepts of female beauty and personality will always be based upon my five sisters. That is my foundation and the starting point that I consciously choose. Where the media deviates from that and tries to dictate to me subtlely or blatantly, I reject it consciously. Awareness is good, so this debate is a positive, I believe.

  4. Dr. Idonia Owens
    June 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    It is sad that we are still raising black children to aspire to the standards of beautify as defined by whites. Raising girls to love themselves, and boys to love all that we are is an uphill battle that in my opinion, many blacks do not want to take on. It’s easier for us as women to alter our looks to mimic some white attributes, than to stand firm on our own God-given foundation. It’s easier for our men to reject our beauty than to struggle with why they do not find us beautiful. Our struggle continues…

  5. T
    June 13, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    Interesting stance on this subject. So how do we move beyond the pain and become more accepting of ourselves and more importantly know and understand our worth as women?

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