We’ve gone long enough as a society letting privileged people off the hook for their bullshit, and it’s time to get real: Cap’n Crunch was only forgiven for the “Oops! All Berries” debacle because he’s a straight white man. Period.
There, we said it.
In case you need a refresher, back in 1997, Cap’n Crunch mistakenly released a cereal that was 100% Crunch Berries with none of the yellow square pieces that consumers had come to expect. It was a disastrous and costly error—and one that a woman or person of color would’ve never made, as women and people of color would’ve taken every precaution to ensure the correct ratio of Crunch Berries to yellow squares, knowing that even the most minor misstep could be attributed to incompetence or an inability to handle the stress of the job. Yet the Cap’n never faced any consequences for the blunder because his status as a powerful white male shielded him from accountability. And not only did he emerge unscathed, but it also wasn’t long before he was once again being trusted with major projects like Cozmic Crunch, proving that he, like so many other straight white men, was above reproach.
See, when a straight white man makes a mistake, society tends to dismiss it as a fluke and just continues acting like he’s a genius. But good luck getting such benefit of the doubt if you’re a WOC ship captain—one small slip-up and people will never let you sail around teaching kids about breakfast cereal ever again. It’s an outrageous double standard that we must no longer tolerate.
The most damning aspect of all this is that the Cap’n didn’t even consider resigning after letting the “All Berries” fiasco happen under his watch, whereas a POC in the same position would’ve been shit-canned immediately. That’s privilege in action, and hopefully, Cap’n Crunch will one day take a step back and realize all the ways he’s benefited in life simply because of how he was born. Because you see, Mr. Crunch, “oops” is not an apology, and it certainly doesn’t vindicate you of your failures. Chances are you have no idea how to make amends for your missteps considering you’ve never had to, but it’s time that you learn.
It is shameful and unjust that we live in a society where a straight white man can hand people boxes of cereal full of just Crunch Berries and expect to be told “good job,” but that is nonetheless the reality. And if you think we’re being unfair calling out Cap’n Crunch like this, just remember all the qualified, passionate candidates waiting in the wings for a job like his who aren’t straight white male sea captains but are just as capable, if not more so. We’re willing to bet that if they were given a crack, they wouldn’t make the same kinds of mistakes Cap’n Crunch has—yet even if they did, we’d get more than an insincere “oops” from them every time.