Yes, this is about that Coca-Cola ad, the one that made some of us proud to be American and others of us livid at seeing the reality of America flaunted by Coke. I fall in the first category. Fox News' Allan West is apparently in the latter.
Here's what I loved about that ad: It wasn't just multiracial people drinking cans of Coke. It integrated the languages and sounds that help make America beautiful. Whatever you think of Coca-Cola and its products, it's hard not to celebrate the ways in which the diversity of America is truly integrated into the ad. For America to be truly integrated, it needs to do the same things -- recognize the cultural and language specificity of each of our communities, find ways to both preserve their independence and incorporate them into a larger narrative; and most importantly, uplift this diversity as a part of America, rather than apart from it.
I actually watch the Super Bowl more for the ads than the game, so after the ad aired, I followed links to Coke's YouTube page and was pleased to find clips of each segment of the commercial being created. There, we see how each singer, glorious in her American-ness, is able to bring to life "America the Beautiful," a national treasure, in linguistically specific ways. The song -- hold on to your horses, nativists -- is not simply translated; it's adapted to fit the language in which it is being sung. The singers speak about the process and what it means to them. Says Naomi, the young Spanish language singer behind the "America la bella" portion, "Out of many people, out of many cultures, that's what makes it one country, and one nation."
The song changes the singers, as the singers change the song. On the YouTube page, each singer is heard in her own language, preserving her independent voice, which is then integrated into the more concise and inspiring commercial we all saw on Sunday night. Finally, the use of these young women's voices, languages and faces sends a strong message about inclusion that goes beyond us as consumers. Instead, it articulates a clear position about the overarching message that immigrants should be intertwined into America's institutions with greater regularity. Coke is one of those institutions, but so is America the Beautiful, and the main event itself, the Super Bowl. But those are baby steps. We need to follow the path set forth by this commercial to continue the relationship America has to immigrants: transforming us and being transformed by us.
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