The parents of a young actress whose Cheerios commercial inadvertently sparked a heated debate about race in this country said that they welcome the attention their biracial daughter has received, and that they hope to provide a more realistic picture of the American family.
“Being part of a biracial family, it’s just the reality,” said Christopher Colbert, the father of the six-year-old Grace, on msnbc Tuesday. “We’re also part of the face of America.”
Colbert added that he was “excited” about the reactions to the commercial, both good and bad, in that they brought much-needed attention to the growing number of biracial couples in America. According to Census data, interracial marriages are at an all-time high, and over nine million Americans self-identify as multiracial.
Who a person chooses to love “shouldn’t be an issue anymore,” said Colbert.
His daughter’s starring role in a Cheerios ad transformed into a starring role in the national conversation about race two weeks ago, when her commercial drew offensive attacks on YouTube. Within days of the ad’s upload, commenters responded with references to Nazis, “troglodytes,” and even “racial genocide,” simply because the ad featured a child with a white mother and black father. General Mills disabled the commenting feature as a result.
In addition to the backlash, however, the ad also inspired an outpouring of support. Positive comments outnumbered the negative by nearly 10-to-1, and the Cheerios Facebook page was flooded with praise. Many of these supporters felt that a conversation about the changing face of America was long overdue.
The six-year-old actress, who has a white mother and black father in real life, seemed unaware of the phenomenon her performance had become, telling host Thomas Roberts on Tuesday that the commercial was “very fun to make.” Her mother, Janet Colbert, said that her daughter thought the attention she was getting must have been because of her great smile.