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Ancestry.com commercial: I Have Mixed Feelings and Here’s Why

Written by Saran Lawson

I love love guys. I make it no secret on my Instagram page or my blog. I love it when people can come together despite socioeconomic status, ethnic background or ability. It makes my heart go pitter patter. I see generation z and my fellow millennials paying secondary and tertiary attention to race and culture. I know the mothers and fathers of the modern interracial movement did something right. In recent times the generations have a different perspective making it more mainstream. With all that said, I have run into something interesting. Let me explain.  I recently came across a very controversial Ancestry.com commercial, and I have mixed feelings on it. If you haven’t seen it, I provided a link above. So, without further ado here is my short playlist on the Ancestry.com commercial.

Unusual – Trey Songz

The bright side: this commercial shows something that we RARELY ever see. A man, a white man at that, risking it all for a black woman. Sure, the media tosses us a bone every once in a millennium with that narrative. A black woman being the sought after love interest. Even rarely, painting us in normal everyday situations where we are seen as sexy, loved or pursued. We are hardly ever seen as the Rachel McAdams of a love story and it sucks (albeit I have found black women who are changing this in literature). This commercial is a historical romance where a white man, who is the privileged party, is willing to break the law to be with a black slave. They live in the south and he proposes that they escape north. Here is the thing about historical romances in the United States, unless that history starts somewhere circa 1980, you’re going to run into some MAJOR issues with the narrative. Frankly, because Black people weren’t considered people for a very long time. When we were seen as people, we definitely weren’t (and still aren’t in my opinion) seen as equal in society. The term second class citizens definitely come to mind. So, to see someone highlight a rarely told story is amazing. Although the story was rare. Which leads me to the con that overshadows the glimmer of light big time.

Smoke and Mirrors – Jayn

The con. The one black people noticed right away. The reason why the majority of people aren’t feeling this commercial. Spoiler alert, it has less to do with the interracial couple themselves and the underlying message. Ancestry.com was probably the wrong company to pick this particular storyline as a commercial. It’s not exactly a pr nightmare, but it’s a huge oversight by the company for not being sensitive to its audience. As much as people would love to believe, this country is NOT post-racial. We still have a lot of issues to iron out for people of color. Our country thinks that Black Lives Matter is similar in some way to the KKK. Microaggressions happen every day all the time to people of color. I am not saying this commercial is a microaggression. However, seeing as how this is a national commercial for a site that promotes DNA testing and the digital family tree you would think they would be more historically and socially aware. Everyone knows, whether you are pro interracial dating or not, this storyline isn’t how the majority of African Americans ended up with European ancestry. This commercial gives a rather irresponsible historical depiction of the relationships between slave women and white men. This commercials original intent is a stab at a generalized story for African American’s. It even ends with, “Without you, the story stops here.”. I think it would have been more responsible for the company to lengthen the commercial. Show both sides of the narrative. That way people get the idea that this was supposed to be one story, not THEE story.

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