Nickelodeon is educating its child audience about police brutality, despite some white parents’ concerns.
Some white parents were upset by the commercial which featured the sound of breathing for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time George Floyd was pinned in the neck by Minneapolis, MN police officer Derek Chauvin who has been charged with second degree murder along with officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane who have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin in murder. The commercial was part of ViacomCBS’ brand-wide focus on Floyd’s murder and to spread awareness of police brutality. The commercial, which aired across all ViacomCBS networks including MTV and VH1, also featured a call to action to viewers to join Color of Change’s fight to reform the country’s criminal justice system.
For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we will go dark in tribute to George Floyd. We dedicate this time to the victims of police brutality and the powerful movement fighting for justice.
— MTV (@MTV) June 1, 2020
Several white parents expressed anger at their children being afraid after witnessing the commercial, but many white parents expressed their gratitude and sadness after witnessing the commercial, saying that it teaches a valuable lesson to them and their children. Other Twitter users, particularly Black Twitter users, also explained that there is privilege in complaining about the scariness of police brutality, seeing how it’s a reality Black parents and children live with–and have been killed from–daily.
Imagine the privilege of your child being scared of some words on a Nickelodeon screen as opposed to black children being afraid of getting murdered for nothing daily.
— supreme luci (@supremeluci) June 2, 2020
Some white parents LOVE shielding their kids from REAL shit! This is why some white kids grow up sheltered and ignorant. Nickelodeon did what it had to do! Your kids are in the real world too. You need to teach them social justice! Why is Black Lives Matter a thing? TEACH THEM!
— Couchella’s Life Matters ✊???? (@_justblaque) June 2, 2020
MTV shared with Shadow And Act an internal ViacomCBS email Chris McCarthy, President of the ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group, sent to employees about the company’s decision to air the commercial.
“The last few weeks have brought to the surface long standing racism, videos of unspeakable behavior and the harsh reality of inequality many in our community deal with on a regular and daily basis,” he wrote. “In Minneapolis, the horrifying murder of George Floyd, in Georgia the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and in Kentucky, the deplorable shooting of Breonna Taylor, to name just a few recent examples.”
“This is on top of a pandemic which has emphasized the tragic inequalities that disproportionately impact communities of color, especially African American and Latinx communities, in addition to the unjust targeting of Asian Americans,” he continued. “While I am not a person of color and can never fully understand this experience, I am offended by the systemic racism and want to stand together with our communities of color in the hurt and pain. We must all do our part – discrimination against one of us is discrimination against all of us.”