How we see multiracial heritage?

11 Jun

Meet Mel the MilkBite:

He’s Kraft’s mascot for a half-milk, half-granola product. And Kraft is playing up the mixed heritage angle in bringing Mel to life, endowing him with a backstory and personality that speak volumes in the commercials for MilkBites.

Here’s Mel’s take on his multi-food heritage: http://youtu.be/EwFL2-uHRJM.

And here’s a blind date reacting to Mel’s mixed parentage: http://youtu.be/MbdRe_jtcqY.

Yes, Mel is depressed, insecure and out of place. Misunderstood by those around him and estranged even from his own parents (see Mel confront them here for “not think[ing] about what life was going to be like” for him: http://youtu.be/gK6yayjgj0s).

Kraft’s message is clear, and according to blogger Jermaine Spradley, hearkens back to abolitionist literature. Mel teaches us that:

biracial children are… perpetually melancholy, ignored, confused, and ostracized by the communities for which they believe they should belong… [Their biraciality is] a constant source of stress and anxiety. That in turn reinforces the notion that miscegenation, and the children born of it, are inherently unhealthy (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jermaine-spradley/krafts-biracial-milkbite-_b_1581506.html?ref=tv&ir=TV).

Yes, I know we’re talking about a snack product. But Kraft started it, by deciding to anthropomorphize their snack, and it doesn’t take that much effort to get the mixed race metaphor they’re playing with.

Playful though the intention behind Mel the melancholy MilkBite may be, the potential impact doesn’t seem so funny. In a time when it’s still rare to see portrayals of multiheritage families (the TV series Modern Family is a notable exception), Mel’s embodiment of multiheritage identity doesn’t get much competition, complication or contradiction.

And so, even in an age when multiracial adoptions and multiheritage families are increasing, anti-miscegenation gets a plug in prime family TV time.

If you believe this is more than just a commercial and want to add your voice to others who are asking, “WTF?” (http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/gutcheck/2012/05/mel_the_milkebite_kraft_foods_petition.php), please check out the petition to “Tell Kraft to Stop Using Stereotypes about Multiracial People”: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-kraft-to-stop-using-stereotypes-about-multiracial-people.

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