Article by Marika Siewert, celebrating Vancouver’s diversity in response to a Cheerios ad.
There was a shocking response to the mixed race family ad that Cheerios ran for their recent “Just Checking” campaign. In the ad the mother was Caucasian, the father an African American and the very adorable daughter was mixed. General Mills and Cheerios chose to encourage the diversity that is very visible in North America. I have to say hats off to their team as it was very brilliant marketing, but also a long overdue move to cast mixed families in mainstream commercial media.
Unfortunately, the company had to disable comments on the ad on YouTube, because of the negative and racist responses it was getting. There was an international media frenzy that came out of that. Overnight this YouTube video went viral, and it became the focus of a discussion about racial discrimination still prevalent in North America today.
I Love my Family’s Diversity
As a Vancouver mom and wife in a mixed family, ﬁrst of all, I have to say I LOVE the diversity in my family. I didn’t marry for colour, I married the man that could dream with me, and love me for who I was and would change the world with me. My kids don’t look at people in colour, and we are teaching them that people are people no matter what they look like. In my head, I still think every family is teaching this, but the reality is, subconsciously even, we often still judge based on skin colour. How do I know? One day when I was walking my very white-looking daughter to school, one of her school mates shouted to her, “Zoey, who’s that, is that your nanny?” Yep. Her school mate assumed that because I was a different colour, I must have been her nanny. Hmm.
I am proud to live in a city that celebrates diversity, however, I have found that when it comes to the simplest things – the songs we may sing, the dances we may dance, the attitudes we have – we still see slight judgments in our own communities and even in ourselves. I used to ignore it, but then when a very adorable commercial faces such backlash, it brings up this thought that even as Vancouverites and Canadians we have lots to learn. I’m not scolding anyone, but merely asking the question: how often do we step out to celebrate and embrace the diversity not only in mixed families but also in our racially different neighbours?
Beautifully Diverse Vancouver Families
I believe that Cheerios is on the right track. I was very excited to see this commercial. I was saddened by the hate that accompanied it, but I know whenever there is change there is challenge. I’d love to see more mixed families in the media, and I think this is just the beginning. I wanted to write this article to not only celebrate mixed families right here in Vancouver, but to encourage these families. They are okay, and there’s many of us doing life just like you! Dream big, dream on, and be YOU!
Here are a few of my favourite Vancouver families that are doing just ﬁne in my book:
Marika Siewert is a Vancouver mom of three, a recording artist, and the CEO of Emerton Records. Find out about her music and her work at www.emertonrecords.com. She also blogs about her beautiful family’s adventures. Visit that at www.marikasiewert.com.
Pilkington family photo (featuring our very own publisher, Christine) courtesy of Vairdy Photography