Coco Pops Is The Latest To Be Accused Of Racism, So Where Do We Draw The Line?

As more brands come under fire for issues about race, where do we draw the line?

Australia has a long way to go with racism, the whole world does. But people are starting to open their eyes and see that some things that have been normal in the past, maybe aren’t acceptable now. Brands haven’t been disregard here either, and Coco Pops is the latest target

Three brands in particular have come under fire this week, regarding issues with their names or marketing – relating to problematic ideas about race. But not everyone agrees that the brands should have to change. So where should the line be drawn for these kinds of issues? If at all?

Coco Pops Bringing Fun To The Breakfast Table?

Kellogg’s is the most recent brand to be publicly called out, for its difference in depictions of Coco Pops and Rice Bubbles. As we all know, Coco Pops are chocolate flavoured, and feature a monkey on the box. While Rice Bubbles are kinda plain (IMO) and feature three white male elves on the box.

Former UK Labor MP, Fiona Onasanya, emailed the company to ask about this difference. After failing to hear back from their team, she took to Twitter to express her thoughts on the racial depictions on the boxes.

Speaking to Daily Mail UK, Kelloggs said that the monkey mascot was supposed to highlight the “playful personality of the brand”, and that they have a number of animal mascots across their brand to “bring fun to the breakfast table”

 “We do not tolerate discrimination and believe that people of all races, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientation, religions, capabilities and beliefs should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Onasanya has copped a lot of shit on Twitter for her post, but the point she raises is important. Should brands be required to change imagery and names when the themes associated with them relate to racist attitudes?

I’m not sure about this one. I think that Coco Pops is a product marketed to children, and a monkey happened to be chosen as its mascot – just like a tiger was chosen for Frosted Flakes and a toucan for Froot Loops. There may not necessarily be any rhyme or reason to the choice.

Brewing Colonialism

Blackhearts & Sparrows’ chain of bottle shops have made the decision to pull all Colonial Brewing Co. stock from their shelves. Because of the problematic nature of the word ‘colonial’ in the brand’s name, the chain decided to remove the stock in order to promote and maintain an inclusive environment for all.

The owners of Colonial Brewing Co. have said that they don’t believe that changing their name will resolve the larger issue of racism, because “actions speak louder than words”, as they told Today.

“It hasn’t been a part of our narrative to celebrate colonialism or imperialism, we have been very forward about that.”

However, the company is now in the process of reviewing and understanding their options regarding the name, given its historical significance and the current global climate.

From what I’ve seen on Twitter today, no one seems to believe that the company should change its name. Most people are pledging to buy more of their beers as a show of support for the W.A. brand, and have condemned Blackhearts & Sparrows for removing the products.

Just Cheese or Racial Slur?

Comedian, Josh Thomas, has also brought up the racial slur associated with Aussie cheese brand, Coon, asking if Aussies are chill with it.

Thomas was surprised to see that a lot of his followers were defending the brand and its historic relevance. So, if I’m understanding them correctly, cheese is more respected than Indigenous people in this country? Righto…

But there’s still plenty of people who believe that the name should be changed. Personally as a white person, if there are Indigenous people telling me that a brand name is an insensitive racial slur, I’d be on the side of changing the name.

I mean c’mon people, its just cheese. The brand was named after an American guy who came up with a new way to age cheese. Why is this guy’s contribution to cheese being so greatly defended by so many, when the impact of the racial slur is much bigger?

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to see a slur that has been used against you being publicly defended by people on Twitter.

Where Do We Draw The Line?

Public/popular discourse is being examined at under a microscope, so if your brand has any racist, sexist, homophobic or ableist themes, maybe think about changing it. Otherwise Twitter will probably find you.

However the question to ask is – where do we draw the line? Is there at all a line to be drawn? If offensive, how should brands be responding?

For example, personally I think that Coon should change their brand name. Because really, why is the name of an American cheese guy so important to preserve – over the historical significance of a racial slur? As for Colonial Brewing Co. and Coco Pops, important concerns have definitely been raised by the public, and the brands should be taking this into consideration going forward.

However, I do think that Coco Pops is just a kids cereal with a monkey mascot. There isn’t necessarily anything malicious there, but it’s an interesting point to address nonetheless about how BIPOC have been represented in the media and in public discourse over time.

Either way I think it’s important to never throw these discussions out the door based on your initial gut feeling. It’s absolutely worth hearing people out, and having rational discussions about such topics.

Image Source: Facebook (Kellogg’s Australia)

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