A seemingly harmless Coke ad shown during the Super Bowl last month spiked controversy throughout the country and on social media, lending an interesting look at our nation’s stance on immigrants.
The ad featured children of different nationalities singing “America, the Beautiful” in the background while they were shown engaged in what might be considered American activities, such as eating popcorn at the movies (and drinking Coke, of course) or practicing skateboard tricks. The aspect that made this controversial to those who opposed it was that the children were not singing the song in English, but in their native languages.
Many people flooded social media with negative responses to the ad because they felt it was “un-American” to sing “America, the Beautiful” in foreign languages.
However, only nine percent of Americans come from an English background. The other 91 percent come from families that spoke a different language before immigrating to America and probably continued to speak their native languages at home for a while, even if some of those families later abandoned the language and now only use English. And today more than a quarter of Americans are bilingual, a substantial portion of the population.
The reaction to the ad shows more than an attachment to the English language. It shows an aversion to the assimilation of other cultures into our society which is strange in a country comprised almost solely of immigrants. American society is formed from the mixing of cultures to create something new. This very mixing can be said to define American society. In very few other countries in the world are there Caucasian, Latino, Middle Eastern, African and Asian students all in the same school.
As an Asian Indian American I’ve learned to eat rice with my fingers, attended Diwali parties and worn “dupattas” to school as scarves. Because my friends are from a variety of different cultures I’ve also gotten to attend Hanukkah parties and eat Asian sweets to celebrate the Lunar New Year. America is defined by this variety of cultures.
I know very few students felt the ad to be “un-American,” but at the same time it is a reminder to celebrate the individuality we have within this school and in our country. It’s a reminder to be open to the variety of beautiful cultures that America gives us the chance to experience right here at home.