The Problem With The Reaction to the Reaction to Coke’s “America the Beautiful” Commercial

I didn’t watch the Superb Owl last night because I don’t care about NFL football so instead I was reading a book. But it’s ok, I heard that nobody else was watching the Big Game either. Like every year, it’s all about watching the commercials. Is that right? Is that how people do capitalism?

During the second quarter, Coca-Cola showcased a commercial featuring ordinary Americans of various backgrounds  — including a gay family — doing everyday people things, all while a multi-lingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” plays in the background.

Cue the shitstorm of racist, xenophobic and homophobic rants on social media, followed by aggregated lists of said bigoted comments by news outlets. I’m not about to show you all of the negative social media out there because you’ve probably already read it. (Whatever you do, don’t look at the #speakamerican tag on Twitter!) And I’m not about to praise Coca-Cola for acknowledging diversity in America because fuck corporations. But these angles were covered to no end by news outlets last night and early today.

It’s no secret what news media’s strategies are when it comes to attracting eyeballs: superlative and exaggerated headlines, most quickly garnered by broadcasting social media activity as bona fide social trends. Everyone is fishing for clicks, and although there are few guarantees in life, I guarantee you this — when a person of color does something on television, somebody on twitter, somewhere, is tweeting something racist about it. Lots of somebodies, actually. And more and more these days, you can also guarantee that when this happens, certain wings of the liberal media will be ON IT, while neglecting to cover more complicated and nuanced race-related stories in need of their attention.

People have yet to tire of this kind of coverage, however. We had identical coverage of the interracial family in the Cheerios commercial, the Indian-American woman who won the Miss America Pageant and the Mexican-American kid singing the national anthem at the NBA Finals — all headlined by how racist assholes spewed hate on social media. SURPRISE! There are millions of racist xenophobic assholes in America, and a lot of them have twitter and a handful of followers who are probably also bigoted assholes.

It’s easy to be enraged by these kind of tweets and statuses and call out these horrible people, but it perpetuates this idea that racist comments are to be expected from a person of color breaking the norm, aka “not being white,” and obscures the real issues that result from that bigotry. It also obscures our ability to take a minute and really celebrate these achievements. It takes up space, enables armchair activism, and often serves to pat white journalists on the back for something not all that impressive. Yes, we live in a white supremacist society, but are tweets from random humans all over the world the best way to remind me that there are ignorant people walking this planet? This type of news hype is lazy and just mindlessly echoes in the internet groupthink chamber that doesn’t try to bring anything new to the table, let alone bring anything into our actual lived experiences or propose real-world solutions. What about coverage that continually talks about dismantling the white patriarchal world we live in?

Are these tweets the most pressing evidence we have today that America is filled with terrible bigoted human beings? (Because it is.) Or do these tweets just make the easiest headline? For every Coca-Cola commercial hater, there were probably ten more people that thought it was amazing. There’s been no visible outcry from the right-wing journalists and politicians who have genuine power and use it against communities of color every day — but I promise you that those politicians probably did do something today to fuck over communities of color, and it wasn’t in the news. The only Fox News article on the subject, (via the Associated Press — Fox didn’t even bother covering it themselves), says only this about the ad: “Coca-Cola showcased America’s diversity with a spot that showed scenes of natural beauty and families of different diversities to the tune of “America the Beautiful” being sung in different languages.” Even this (unfortunately) influential policy-making conservative think tank loved the commercial.

As you saw, one of the scenes in the commercial included a gay white male couple and their daughter at a skating rink. According to GLAAD, this was the first time a Super Bowl commercial featured a gay family. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis praised the ad in a statement: “Including a gay family in this ad is not only a step forward for the advertising industry, but a reflection of the growing majority of Americans from all walks of life who proudly support their LGBT friends, family and neighbors as integral parts of ‘America the Beautiful.’” (Personally, I was more excited to learn that “America the Beautiful” songwriter Katharine Lee Bates had a “romantic friendship” with Katharine Coman for 25 years than I was to see another gay white male couple on television! It can get exhausting, honestly, for the rest of us — queer women of color especially — to be continually asked to applaud and celebrate the inclusion of gay white men as a community-wide victory/achievement.)

What the racist tweets story has accomplished, ultimately, is that it has cast Coca-Cola as the Good Guy, sticking up for gays and people of color despite the “backlash” from The Evil Twitter Machine. This comes on the heels of the recent backlash against Coca-Cola’s controversial sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and subsequent advertising campaigns in the wake of Russia’s anti-LGBT policies. Last week, Coca-Cola removed a website that allowed people to write names and messages on virtual Coke cans and then share it with friends via social media. They removed it after LGBT activists realized that “gay” was banned from the website.

I recognize that within the context of mainstream media and advertising in the United States, Coca-Cola’s ad does represent progress, and it made a lot of people I know accidentally cry a little. But I’m uncomfortable about giving a company who continually creates problems in this world a high-five for a job well done or cast them as victims in a story about the ad. Y’all  know consuming soda is not healthy for you, which is sometimes all that mostly poor people of color consume regularly because clean water isn’t accessible or affordable. Daily consumption of carbonated drinks can lead to health problems like tooth decay, Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks and kidney failure, to name a few. The same beverage people consume daily can also be used as a household cleaner. The company causes environmental problems around the world, including the “over-exploitation of limited water resources and the contamination of groundwater supplies by bottling plants in India. There’s a whole list of shady business practices the Coca-Cola Company has led, so of course I’m not going to be praising a company for acknowledging the existence of people of color when they continually to shit on them around the world.

Yes, it’s important to call out racism, xenophobia and homophobia when we see it, especially on social media. But there’s a difference between calling out bigotry when we see it — and there is plenty to be seen — and purposefully looking for bigotry in predictable places to fill a slot in a 24/7 news cycle. Journalists are able to wrap up a story neatly — they found the bigoted tweet, and they called it out, the commenters chimed in with disgust, and everybody felt really good about themselves today. Everybody neatly fights social media with social media. It’s easy. I’m not saying that it isn’t a problem that those tweeters feel the way they do — in fact, it’s an ENORMOUS problem, and the tweeters are a symptom of the disease that is American culture today, and that disease deserves our attention as journalists and activists every minute of every day. But twitter is not the beginning or the end of that problem, and stories like this make it seem like it is, and it subsequently makes the solution seem all-to-easy when it’s really anything but. If America is ever gonna be beautiful enough to pay genuine tribute to the different groups represented in last night’s Coca-Cola ad, we need a lot less attention paid to gawking at twitter and a lot more attention paid to the culture that created those people to begin with.

Avatar of Yvonne

Associate Editor at Autostraddle. Dallas-based freelance writer with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. Former Associate Editor at L Style G Style magazine, published by the Dallas Morning News and The Alcalde. Passionate about Mexican food, Selena and breakfast tacos.

Yvonne has written 18 articles for us.

37 Comments

  1. Thumb up 14

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    “But there’s a difference between calling out bigotry when we see it — and there is plenty to be seen — and purposefully looking for bigotry in predictable places to fill a slot in a 24/7 news cycle.”

    Yessss. This is excellent.

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    I completely agree on the problem of making out Coca-Cola to be heroic and on the side of social justice, all the while doing very real harm to people; and also agree on who we are suppose to be excited about as the face of the LGBTQ community and movement. In addition, the whole positive reaction to the ad kind of grated me in some ways by presenting a unified/idolized version of the U.S. It is hard for me to expand on that other than to say my problem with it is tied in with how corporations will often do this while undermining social justice in their practices. However, the last paragraph seems reminiscent of the argument that some people just go looking for reasons to hate and should focus on more important things instead of complaining about x, y, z. When prejudices and bigotry are pointed out, the people pointing them out are often accused of drumming up controversy and wasting their time just to feel good about themselves. Its an argument that could be applied to this site in general and this article specifically. It could be applied to me speaking about how it bothers me that this idealized, clean-cut, and “melting-pot” version of the U.S. rubs me the wrong way, especially when done by a corporation such as Coca-Cola.

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    I honestly liked the commercial and I don’t wonder that the media is obvs all over that shit because let’s face it, a lot of the commercials last night had some issues. AXE anyone? I was like of the people to portray!!

    Back to Coca Cola. I actually read a couple of people reacting to it on the FB news feed today and in my mind I’m like “America is a melting pot” and let’s face it, it’s true. Not that other places aren’t diverse you know? I think that the aim of the commercial was to also show that Coca Cola AS A BRAND is something that’s known all over the world, much like McDonald’s my dad says.

    I agree that the people who think of a ‘norm’ are covering the things we have accomplished as a nation, as a people. EVERYONE has come so far in the past years. We have A LOT to celebrate and it’s a little bit selfish of people to try to take that away from the little victories we have. It should be taken as a STEP FORWARD and not something for people to be picking at. Yes I understand that it’s a patriotic song but saying stuff like “SPEAK ENGLISH!! YOU’RE IN AMERICA” is really taking it a bit far. You don’t go to England and say “Use the accent!!”

    People who are hating on the commercial is further proof we still have a ways to go in terms of us being open and accepting and acknowledging the humans around us.

  4. Thumb up 6

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    What’s most important about this ad is that it featured part of the song in Keres, an endangered, Pueblo language. It’s funny because a lot of Indian Country freaked out, too, that they had a lot of random languages but not a Native one, before they realized that there WAS one included.
    I personally think that Coke is making a lot of good choices, like their decision to not spend any money on advertising during their biggest advertising season and instead give the money to charity. But no, they’re definitely not perfect. Not by a long shot.

  5. Thumb up 4

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    This is cynical and lazy.

    I’m sorry but lets start here
    “This type of news hype is lazy and just mindlessly echoes in the internet groupthink chamber that doesn’t try to bring anything new to the table”

    You know what is outside of your bubble? Outside of this blog and the numerous activist blogs I imagine you read daily? The actual real world. A world that I grew up in that where I was at the same time surrounded by people who became my friends and enemies from all walks of life. At the same time also interacting with people who never saw a nonwhite person until they went to school.

    There are a lot of people like that, that have a cynical view of multiculturalism, that want it to not work. That tell me every day of my live “Arent asians more racists than whites” or “Spanish people hate gays”. And probably for a first time for a lot of those people, they saw this side of our country(these people aren’t enlightened to post-nationalist idealism, so yes country matters). And they saw it and they liked it. Its a start, its a sign of changing sentiment.

    You point to this company and say that their consumption is a problem in poor communities of color, what do you expect them to do? This is a symptom of much huger issues that a company probably can’t comprehend.(And which i frankly doubt you comprehend). You criticize it as a company for its shady business practices but you refuse to acknowledge that this is part of a larger pattern and act like coke is especially bad. Again, symptom, not cause.

    Yes its a company, but they had no impetus to post this ad, things like this may not be risks, they may be profitable in the long run, but in the end they are the signs that something more positive is going on.

    • Thumb up 10

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      Yvonne writes this: “For every Coca-Cola commercial hater, there were probably ten more people that thought it was amazing. There’s been no visible outcry from the right-wing journalists and politicians who have genuine power and use it against communities of color every day — but I promise you that those politicians probably did do something today to fuck over communities of color, and it wasn’t in the news.”

      She isn’t telling you or anybody not to like the commercial. She’s questioning the use of a valuable news cycle to publish the worst remarks of the worst kind of people. What does it prove? What does it advance? Did we all not know those people existed before? If we’ve been in the “actual real world” of which you speak, yes. This noise distracts from the day-to-day needs of minority communities.

      We’re all in the real world here, whether we like it or not. And this privileged bubble of which you speak is actually mostly volunteers across the web, and given that our actual selves are disregarded every day in favor of pseudo diversity like Macklemore or Coca-Cola, we have the right to suggest here, in our own space, that the corporate memes for progress are inadequate. Especially since they have been going on for decades in predictable patterns, always with markers calling the dumbest loudest thing prejudice, but never the system…Never the system that made so many kids the only non-white kid in their environment. Or the only queer kid. Or the only poor one. And of course it just goes on. In new and “exciting” ways.

      If the biased people you know found themselves reconsidering because of a commercial, okay. But as a rule I wouldn’t rely on commercials.

  6. Thumb up 14

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    I thought this article was thoughtful and nuanced, even if I have some differing views. It reminded me a bit of an autostraddle article from the archives by, I think Riese, who was like, yo, hate on Chik-fil-a but also fast food just sucks period. At least that’s what I got from it.

    Here’s where I agree: the bigger issues are often insidious and far from the minds and attention spans of the American people, and goddamn if huge corporations like Coca-Cola aren’t doing all sorts of nasty shit around the world that people would prefer to not think about while gulping their soda.

    Here’s where I disagree: Actually it brings me back to Macklemore, who received a lot of hate here and I didn’t chime in on the Grammy thread. Same Love is not the most radical song ever, it follows a theme of straight white males rewarding straight white males for putting issues in inoffensive ways, but when I listen to Same Love that’s not my first thought. I remember two middle school boys, who we targeted for interventions because they were bullying using homophobic slurs, tearing up while watching the video for the first time at our GSA. I remember my mom in the car, listening it the song on the radio with me.

    You’ve got to start the media representation and conversation-about diversity, about sexuality, about what it means to be American, about inclusion- somewhere. Some of us are lucky enough to have liberal websites and blogs and small college seminars. But for others, especially younger others, it’s looking at a commercial and seeing themselves (or people they never imagined to be like them) in there and responding on twitter or Facebook or wherever else. Or it’s seeing that intolerance on twitter or wherever else will be shutdown, criticized, and IS NOT COOL (coolness being essential to the middle school life). Does the conversation need to end there? No, but I’m always looking for places to start.

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      I can’t agree more.

      It makes me very sad and a little angry when people get so mad at Coke or Macklemore for showing some kind of support for our community and ethnic communities. The comments I’ve seen that blindly attack Coke for being a company or Macklemore for being a “cis white straight boy” (Autostraddle Grammy feed article) are really short sighted.

      Yes, Coke obviously would like to make money. That’s what companies do. No Coke is not perfect. But they could be running an add like the Old Spice craziness commercials and make tons of money still. Macklemore performs in a medium where it’s all too easy to stick to “safe”songs to avoid extra pressures in a high-pressure environment. But instead of sticking with more standard entirely capitalistic approaches, Coke and Macklemore spent their time (and in Coke’s case a huge ton of money) promoting equality and dignity. Coke’s add promotes a patriotism that honors and remembers the diversity of our country. That’s not and never is blindly capitalistic. And Macklemore can’t help that he’s a white straight cis boy, but because of him, millions of people who look up to rappers and pop stars have listened to a message of inclusion – maybe for the first time.
      Just because Coke is big money, that doesn’t mean the company always has to be an asshole. And just because Macklemore isn’t part of an oppressed group, that doesn’t make his contribution unworthy. It actually makes it a stronger contribution because he was never strong armed into his support. Including minority groups does have to include the majority groups accepting the minority groups back into the fold. It’s an inherent part of acceptance, which is why it makes no sense to be so mad at Macklemore.

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    Your words here give me much pause for thought. You have brought up some valid points, and made me think of a dozen more that aren’t in your article. I wonder what would have exploded in the world had they used a family with a black gay/lesbian couple parenting the child, or even further, a multi-racial gay/lesbian couple with three kids! Then I also think that suddenly everyone is on the “let’s use some gay people” in our ads kick too. They aren’t thinking about progressing equality, they are thinking about profit and what will get people talking about THEM and their product. Your article actually gives more exposure to Coca-Cola than it does to the negativity of the haters. Thanks for making me see more, and think more!

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      I don’t know. This may sound a bit cynical, but it’s a great thing if including positive images of racial diversity and homosexuality is a good thing. It’s just like sustainable practices. They’re only mildly popular until people realize that they can make more money and attract more customers if they include them.

      That is, money is really important for living. Being able to live better financially because your group is visibly inclusive both promotes and perpetuates equality. People who might otherwise be totally neutral about an issue will join in if they can make a little more money that way*.

      *And no. I’m aware that exploitation and fake support are really horrible. But Coke’s add doesn’t really sink to that levels. It’s patriotic and includes more people and languages than are usually remembered into American patriotism.

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    I was wondering what kind of coverage the anti-gay laws in Russia and sponsorship of the Olympics by companies such as Coca-Cola is getting in America? I know I can only get a narrow impression from asking here, but I’m interested…it’s something I hear a lot about in England, but I don’t know about the rest of the world.

  9. Thumb up 6

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    This article is so on point. Coca Cola is not the savior of brown people, and I find the media narrative (Coca Coca vs. racism) really tiresome and beside the point.

    I thought that commercial was heartwarming. I feel pretty similarly about their polar bear commercials. Coca Cola spends a lot of money to create advertisements that will emotionally resonate with people — and particularly during the Super Bowl, get people talking about their brand. So… mission accomplished. Next?

  10. Thumb up 4

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    Loved it!
    Yeah, corporations are bad and Sotchi and we all agree on those issues.
    And it does not mean that Coca Cola is off the hook within our community at all.
    However, in my mind, there is a couch filled with white racist, homophobic males,stuffing their faces with chicken wings and beer while watching the game.
    And these people are subjected to a minute long ad about “This is ‘merica,with all those different people in it. Let’s celebrate it.”
    And that image brings me great glee.
    Decent ad, but perfect target audience,imo.
    And of course not everyone who watches the superbowl is like that, but the people who’d be really “offended” by that commercial would be very likely to be watching the superbowl,as well,while possibly, avoiding shows or T they’re “uncomfortable” with.

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    I definitely agree with the main idea of this article. The first one or two times a writer aggregated hateful tweets, it was a new and interesting tactic to show the dark underbelly of Twitter/the American public, even if it wasn’t looking at the institutional and cultural underpinnings of the Twitter backlash. But at this point, I feel like people expect that a “journalist” will go out and corral all the awful tweets and put them on the internet and I believe that a lot of Twitter users are purposely trying to say something outrageous to get attention from others, especially when they know a hashtag is trending. I think they’re going the all publicity is good publicity route and getting their 15 minutes of fame on the back of whatever racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic scandal is happening at the time. With the 24/7 news cycle and the dependence on ratings and page views, a lot of contemporary news and journalism is more about creating viral content than actually examining societal issues, and that is really unfortunate.

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    This article is poorly written stream of consciousness that loses the point it seems to be trying to make in a mire of regurgitating the exact same ideas the author seems to be against, maybe. It’s hard to tell because of how poorly written it is.

    Beyond that, there are several, frankly, vomitous ideas in here that should never have seen the light of day here on Autostraddle.

    Honestly, you actually think people “purposely look for bigotry”? What planet are you living on. We don’t have to look for it. It falls in our laps like the shitheap of textual diarrhea that selfsame twitter racism you’re talking about is.

    Come back to us when you actually have to live in fear because bigotry threatens your very existence. Until then, you’d best shut your mouth or at least take a few writing lessons before trying to write anything again.

    I can’t believe how awful this article was. There is no distinguishable rubric, no distinguishable point, and it is extremely convoluted and barely comprehensible, at best.

    Unimpressed, autostraddle. Unimpressed. And that’s and understatement.

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      “Honestly, you actually think people “purposely look for bigotry”? What planet are you living on.”

      Woah, slow your roll there LadyKnight. Before you start criticising Yvonne and her writing, know that what she says is the truth.

      Looking for bigotry is a real, actual, acceptable thing in the field of journalism because, as Yvonne explains, journalists are asked to fluff up a piece with the most headline grabbing thing.

      It’s a harsh reality of the job but as a journalist I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 your editor/clickbait manager/discernible higher up is going to force you into saying ‘Shitty People Say Shitty Things on The Internet Where Free Speech is Allowed Even If Their Speech Is Shitty’ because it’ll get more clicks, when the reality is more like ‘Some People Avoid Bigotry, Some Don’t, Free Speech is a Thing, Whatever’. Journalists don’t always have a choice in that but when they do, it’s ridiculous that they don’t use that to explain the situation and the reasons for the controversy more than a few embedded tweets could possibly do.

      I’m on a bit of a tangent here but yes, as you say, lives are in danger because of bigotry and the problems are far more extensive than the reactions to diversity in ads, but, as Yvonne did well to explain, the conversation should be about MORE than those reactions and rather about the reasons behind the bigotry and what the we can do to change that.

      Oh, and as for “Come back to us when you actually have to live in fear because bigotry threatens your very existence.” you don’t know Yvonne’s life or what bigotry she has or hasn’t faced so, uh, step off, LadyKnight.

  13. Thumb up 1

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    This article addressed a lot of feelings I was having but was struggling with articulating. Mostly that of Coca-Cola trying to appear all “we love people of different colors and backgrounds” while still consciously contributing to many of problems people of color throughout the world are faced with.

    Additionally, there is a reason we don’t look at comments on YouTube videos or other mainstream media, we know those awful racist/xenophobic/homophobic people exist, but acknowledging them by choosing to interact with their statements, only gives them a sense of righteousness and power.

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    So stoked to see an article like this on AS. SPOT ON analysis and well said.
    For me, it all comes back to intersectionality with Coke. Yup, it’s a big business and it’s there to make money and I shouldn’t expect anything else from it etc., but I do expect something else. I expect better. I imagine a world with ethical practices, a world where these institutionalized systems of oppression are dismantled and coke gives a shit about poverty and class and racism and all of those things.
    I personally boycott coke products because of coke’s role in providing the Zionist lobby with millions of dollars that go towards taking basic human rights away from Palestinians in Gaza at best, and systematically kill Palestinians at worst. For me, it doesn’t matter what the hell coke does that’s nice. It can feature a commercial of only interracial gay couples making out and it doesn’t fucking matter because it still does all of these other terrible things. It doesn’t get brownie points for trying, sorry. Intersectionality is real and one evil is all evils.

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    First and foremost America is a continent, two continents actually, North America and South America. The United States is not even the only country in the Americas that has “of America” (or a translation thereof) in it’s title.
    I agree with both the thrust of the article, that it’s so easy to find and exploit evil in this country. I also agree with those who say this article was rambling and erratic. But most of all it annoys me that we’re the only country that is dumb enough to refer to itself by the continent instead of the country.
    Due to multiple human rights violations by Coca-Cola I boycott it’s products. This ad will not change that.

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    I completely agree with this article and this is off the main topic.. but I think the gay fathers are an interracial south asian/white couple? Please look again, they certainly don’t look like a white couple.

    Regardless, though I know that the lack of representation of queer mothers of colour is glaring, I don’t think the representation of gay fathers (of colour on top of that) should be swept under the rug.

    The desire and ability to parent is taken for granted in women, and this exists in combination with a stereotype of the supermother of colour, who is supposed to be perpetually warm-hearted, available, and accepting. So although they would bear with far more force the accumulated forces that oppress lesbian families of colour (whose destructive power is in no way deminished or denied by the rest of my argument), a two-mother-of-colour version would probably hit less sensitive buttons in the audience, have it strike them as less of a ‘disturbing’ family.

    Gay men with a desire to parent are knee-jerkingly seen as suspect and/or pedophiles in disguise; men of colour are portrayed as impulsive, violent, misogynistic, irresponsible fathers, etc, rendering the image of a gay father of colour almost unthinkable.
    When that taboo is broken it is a small victory for women, in particular women of colour, because it challenges the idea that their caregiving is a default, ordinary, or to be expected, and therefore unworthy of particular recognition.

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    “clean water isn’t accessible or affordable.” That’s bullshit. Maybe in another country but in America even if tap water isn’t purified it is still safe to drink. And if it isn’t safe to drink residents are notified. And its extremely cheap – less than a $1 a gallon. Much cheaper than soft drinks.

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    Eh, I try not to be so cynical about things. Coke is a giant company, so I doubt the people who write the ads are the same people who are making the decisions you mentioned in the article.

    I’m glad this commercial is making people talk about what is “normal” and what is “American.” A lot of people don’t know how to start that conversation without something like this to prompt them, so I’m trying to look at the positive. I work in a school that is about 50 percent students who speak English as a second language. Normal for me to is hear 4 or 5 different languages on a daily basis in my school and my neighborhood. I know there are a lot of problems with big companies like coke, but it is sort of nice to see a commercial that looks and sounds like my community. Also, I didn’t even notice the gay couple the first time I watched it because all of the actors seemed to get an equal amount of screen time, so I really appreciate it that they didn’t do that thing a lot of companies do when they are like HEY LOOK AT US WE USED A GAY COUPLE DON’T YOU SEE THEM PRAISE US NOW.

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    Great article. I purposely didn’t read any of the clickbait related to this Coke ad for pretty much exactly the reasons you outlined here.

    There is a discussion worth having, though, about where the balance lies between this kind of attention-grabbing tactic, and the need for ongoing visibility and awareness of social issues. Remember that there are a lot of people out there who believe that racism is “over” and everybody should shut up and move on. Shining the spotlight on these kinds of reactions can show how mistaken that attitude is.

    Where is the line between sensationalism and social responsibility? My personal feeling is that if a journalist has to dredge through social media sites to dig up a fairly tiny percentage of hateful posts, they’re effectively blowing a minority response out of proportion and causing an uproar over nothing (or over not much, anyway), which, as you explain, can itself be damaging to legitimate race issues. But if the responses they’re highlighting are representative of a sizeable trend, that’s something I think people should know about.

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