Sunday, June 23, 2013

Multicultural Families

A couple of weeks ago an online Cheerios commercial depicting a multicultural family went viral on the Internet. The mom was “white,” dad was “black,” and their “biracial” daughter poured Cheerios on the dad’s chest (while he was napping on the couch) to keep his heart healthy. It was adorable. It went viral mainly, unfortunately, because of all the haters. Bigots came out of the woodwork to post so many nasty comments on the YouTube ad that General Mills disabled the comments feature. But they refused to take the ad down and it’s still available for viewing (and is being aired on TV now too). Yay for General Mills. Here is the link.

Soon after the hoo-ha started, another YouTube clip went viral that was a spoof on the original. It depicted a “white” mom talking to a “biracial” daughter about Cheerios and heart health (just like in the original ad) and then the child went and poured the Cheerios on her other mom, who was “black.” It was a lesbian couple! The last line of the ad was one mom calling out to the other mom to remind her to disable comments when she put the clip on YouTube. Too funny. Here is the link.

This week a website was launched called “We Are the 15%” started by a cross-cultural couple (Michael Murphy and Alyson West) in response to the Cheerios ad fiasco. It’s a simple website, which is a repository for photos of multicultural families. The people who started it have invited cross-cultural couples and multicultural families to send photos of their family to the site and the photos will be posted. Here is a link to the site. A gallery of photos of these beautiful families is growing daily. As is the number of multicultural families.

The Murphy & West website takes its name from the statistic from the 2008 U.S. Census Update, which counted the number of “new inter-racial marriages” (the term used on the Census) at 15%. I have not bothered to track down more recent data, which I have no doubt would show an even larger number of multicultural families, especially when you consider the numbers of cross-cultural gay and lesbian couples who have not been allowed to legally marry yet, when you count unmarried heterosexual couples as well, and when you realize that it’s been 5 years since the 2008 update. Not to mention all of us older folks in cross-cultural relationships who are not “new” couples.

I found out about the We Are the 15% website from my friend Gayla, who is part Chinese and part Finnish and is married to an Anglo/Euro Canadian. Their multicultural daughter is my goddaughter and their family is Jewish. When Gayla posted the link to the website on her Facebook page she said “In my world we are the 85%.” Gayla’s sister, also married to an Anglo/Euro guy, has three biological multicultural children and six adopted African American children. You can see why Gayla says her world is about 85% multicultural. Gayla’s world of the 85% is my reality as well. My children are Jewish, Christian, European, African, and Native American. I know a great many cross-cultural couples and many multicultural children. Heck, there are two multicultural children living in the White House. Also their dad!

My son Akili has been with his girlfriend Tina for over 5 years and I have no doubt they will marry some day. Tina is half Anglo and half Latina. Their children will have to check every box on the ethnic identity form except Asian – unless they do what I have started doing and decline to state as a matter of principle. I no longer wish to look at cultural background in terms of “race” since I think that’s a false and divisive fabricated social construct. I like to think in terms of different cultures.

Attempts to categorize people by “race” are tenuous and misleading. For instance, how do you classify people from India or Pakistan – what? are they Asian? seriously? Or Middle Eastern people, such as Palestinians? Are they classified as “white,” so would that be like Anglo/Euro? Huh? Or Filipinos who are largely Asian and Native. Or Mexicans who are largely Spanish and Native. And how does it work that Jews are categorized as Anglo/Euro? If we are so Anglo (that dominant culture), then how come we can’t get into the country club (if you catch my meaning)? Furthermore, many (if not most) African Americans are actually part Anglo/Euro and/or part Native. Let’s be real. Once you scratch below the surface, it’s all mixed up, and it turns out that more people are multicultural than not. I think we’re looking at a figure closer to Gayla’s 85%. I love it! So from where I stand, well, in the words of Louis Armstrong, “It’s a wonderful world.”

Here is a 2008 photo of our multicultural family. A classic photo that is one of my favorites.

1 comment:

Bodhi said...

There's a new series on TV called "The Fosters." It also features a multicultural family.