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Cheerios' Inspires 15 Percent

Mixed-race child from the Cheerios advertGroundbreaking ad leads to online photo blog.

When Cherrios makers Nestle decided to use a racially mixed family to promote their breakfast cereal they had no way of knowing the huge controversy it would cause in the united States. The website hosting the ad was inundated with racist and biggoted comments. But well done Nestle who left the ad as it was and helped move American advertising one step further along the road to equality. Well done also for not using a light skinned black father as most advertising companies in the UK have done. Our dark skinned brothers and sisters are often left out of colour conscious advertising and we are happy to see them being represented.

The negative comments regarding the ad also inspired a new online photo exhibition and blog called We are the 15 percent. The idea of Michael David Murphy and Alyson West the blog is based on a single concept - photographs of racially mixed families, which represents 15 percent of the U.S., according to the 2008 census. It has quickly gained critical acclaim for its portrayal of joyful unions.

Founders Michael and Alyson recently spoke to HLNTV.

HLN: How long has 'We Are the 15 Percent' been around?
Alyson: It's very new! It was inspired by the Cheerios ad, which was posted May 28. We started by asking friends to join in and send their photos. They told their friends, and the word got out. Within a few weeks, we had thousands of replies. The stories we get are absolutely amazing, and we are invigorated by every email. You can't help but smile when you look at those families and those faces.
HLN: Did you encounter opposition from family or friends when you and Michael got married?
Alyson: We did not. We were together for five years before we got married, and our families were very supportive. We are lucky. In my opinion, it's each family's responsibility to educate us about our history without passing along the weight of its baggage, regardless of what kind of racial background they come from.
HLN: Cheerios portrayed a mixed-race family in a very natural way in their commercial. What other companies do you think are as open-minded as they are?
Alyson: IKEA surely is, and Philadelphia cream cheese's commercials have shown mixed-race couples too. It's people doing typical things. We take for granted that the typical setting usually includes white people. By incorporating different races into those same settings, it shows it as normal -- which it is. This is the changing face of the American family.
HLN: What's your advice for a mixed-race couple coming up against opposition to their union from family or friends?
Alyson: Know yourself and know your worth. You have to elevate the conversation of race with positivity. it's also a two-person deal -- you have to stand up for what you believe in together.

You can submit your own photos to the We Are the 15 Percent project by sending them to

Click here to view the original Cheerios ad

Click here to see how some children reacted to the Cheerios ad and the negative online feedback it received

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