Monday, February 03, 2014

It's Beautiful

There was, apparently, a kerfuffle over a Coca-Cola commercial that aired during yesterday's Super Bowl. It shows people of different cultural and religious backgrounds and "America, The Beautiful" is sung in a number of languages; Hindi, Tagalog, Spanish, Hebrew, Senegalese-French, Arabic, Keres (spoken by the Pueblo people of New Mexico), Mandarin, and I may have missed one or two. Click the link and it will trigger a number of behind-the-scenes videos showing the recording of the song, too.

The metaphor for America that I have always loved is that of the tossed salad-- all mixed together with each culture maintaining its own unique flavor. This is what makes us strong. If you don't like this commercial, you are missing the point of this country. In the mix is also this longer video that shares the stories of the people who appear in the video. It's a powerful reminder that we really are far more alike than we are different, and that pretty much all of us want the same things for ourselves and our families.

In an America that is a tossed salad, I myself am a tossed salad, too. As a white woman I have noticed that often it is assumed I have no cultural identity other than "white." While my ancestry, as far as I know, is all European, I actually have ancestry from many areas: Holland, France, Ireland, Norway, and the UK. And, if you get really picky (which I do), I have ancestry from Wales, Great Britain, and Scotland, each a part of the UK with distinct culture, language and traditions. All of those cultures (to varying degrees) are part of my experience and my heritage; lumping them together and calling me "white" removes my own individual cultural identity. I am not whining, just making an observation; for me, understanding my friends of different backgrounds happens when I hear their stories and understand some of what makes them who they are. I think that is true of everyone, regardless of their race, religious or cultural background. It would seem Coca-Cola agrees with me on this point.

At any rate, acknowledging the linguistic, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of our great nation is wonderful. I guess there were some people who were unhappy with the song being sung in languages other than English. I, on the other hand, applaud Coca-Cola for showing the incredible beauty of this country AND its people. For lunch today, I'm having a salad -- and a Coke.

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