I was taken aback at all the hatred — mostly from conservatives — toward the “America the Beautiful” Coke commercial that aired during the Superbowl last night.
The commercial was a beautiful display of the diversity found within our country — so why would anyone be upset over it?
I’ll tell you.
The individuals in the commercial sang “America, The Beautiful” in multiple languages, including English. Apparently, many conservatives took this to mean that Coke doesn’t believe English should be the official language of the United States or that what they were really singing was “open borders for all!”
Let’s calm down before we jump to hasty conclusions, people. Many people, including most of our ancestors, came to America speaking little to no English. Yes, most of them eventually learned English – something citizens of this country should do. There was nothing in the commercial that denounced that.
The U.S. is comprised of people from different countries, many who speak two, three or more languages. I only wish I could say that of myself.
The was was Americana at its most diverse and it showcased some of the nation’s most iconic scenes: the California coastline, New York streets, Arizona desert and more.
The backlash was ugly and I was embarrassed by it. Is this really how you want to respond, conservatives? I’d think again.
Coca-Cola is quintessentially American and the brand has always used that identity to appeal to cultures globally. This commercial makes sense and is the epitome of patriotic for what it displays.
After reading far too many tweets spewing critical commentary about the commercial, I felt discouraged to be a part of such reactionary, negative people.
James Poniewozik of Time responded to the criticism wonderfully:
People like my immigrant mother and her immigrant sisters learn English as adults and raise their kids to speak it, and also speak French and Arabic at family get-togethers and on phone calls. We speak English in school and Spanish with grandparents and Spanglish with friends. We speak Creole and Chinese and Tagalog sitting down to family dinners–maybe with a bottle or two of Coke around the table, which is why Coke is smart to recognize this.
We come to America, in other words, and we become American–but we don’t erase everything else that we were before, we don’t forget our cultures and languages as if they never existed, and we don’t hide them as if they’re shameful or less than patriotic. We bring them out and share them, and they make this country better and stronger. America isn’t weakened because people don’t submit to a monoculture; it’s strong because it can absorb the peoples and aspirations and talents of the rest of the world without erasing their cultures.
I don’t believe in open borders, free for all amnesty or changing America’s official language. That doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the country we are – with the thousands of languages spoken within our borders every day from sea to shining sea.
* For another perspective on the issue, check out Victory Girls blogger Cassy Fiano with her take. We may disagree but I always welcome healthy debate and conversation!