love, desire, and impossible measures

love, desire, and impossible measures

The State

Tiana Reid
Columbia University

Children rule. No, certain children rule the ways in which we measure fantasies of progress. I read Meagan Hatcher-Mays’ Jezebel piece, “I’m Biracial, and That Ad Is a Big Fucking Deal. Trust Me.,” before I saw the Cheerios commercial itself. The commercial, like most ads, is simple and taps into the unsupervised kiddie trope: it presents a chubby-cheeked maybe-blonde making a mess. Distressingly enough, my first reaction was to claim a resolutely anti stance to not watch the video but respond to the Jezebel post and say, “I’m Biracial, and That Ad Is the Worst Thing Ever. Trust Me.” Quickly, however, I felt it and thought, “Oh, fuck no. I’m black.” And it’s not the ad, but the liberal reactions to it, the way it becomes a siphon for deliciously delirious national imaginaries of cosmopolitan ideas of race that cracks my core. (For instance: how could they say those things about that cute little girl?!) But here I am, writing…

…It’s hard enough, I would think, to hate on a beautiful little “mixie” and wonder what or how her presence, no, the way in which she is presented, eclipses other lives. Hatcher-Mays, whose hyphenated name perhaps tells us what we need to know of her wholeness, went as far to say that the commercial “validates the existence of biracial and multiracial people.” (Her emphasis.) The way we think about “mixed-race,” however, is grounded in a neoliberal narrative that is narrowly individualized (again, “Mixie Me”). What does it mean for children of color to bring into “existence” this “biracial” child who is not one or the other or even both but maybe, here, a symbol of what’s to come? Who has access to this claim? What does it even mean to grope for a way to ask such questions? When visibility becomes the proxy for “the state of things”—when it becomes a measure of who we are and that we exist, what we lose is vitality….

…If the goal is to normalize mixed-race families, as Hatcher-Mays applauds Cheerios for, then we should all be scared for our lives. Normalization is a bit like reform—as simultaneously boring and dangerous—and, as American sociologist and race theorist Howard Winant wrote in a nod to Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, “reformism is better understood as incorporation and absorption of conflict than as conflict resolution.” Multiculturalism, multiracialism, pluralism, diversity, and the endless etc. of 21st century neologisms fit into this schema of subsumption rather than disruption. What isn’t embraced in the script is that Blackness isn’t that normal at all

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