Thank You Internetz

and the Coca-Cola company.  For turning over the rock, and allowing light to shine on the racism that is alive and all too

Statue of liberty

Statue of liberty (Photo credit: rakkhi)

well in America.

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, didn’t see the commercial that caused waves in our amber GMO enriched grain until this morning.  If I was a gambler, I’d put money on the idea that many of the same people shitting themselves over a Coke commercial featuring people of color! language other than English!  would consider me suspect, not a real American for the simple fact that I’m not a football fan, not a sports fan at all.

That’s what America’s all about, right?  The Pilgrims came here so they could chase a ball and drink beer without any pesky brown people, or hearing anything other than the dulcet tones of English.  Such a pure language, developed in a magical place without any influences from any other nasty, discordant languages.  Mmm hmmm.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not too highbrow for football.  I was annoyed there was no new episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta last night–I assume because they didn’t think they’d get enough viewers.  I know, I know, RHoA, more brown people.  Black women.  If it makes you feel better, dear racists, I found that out after eating a slice of apple pie.  My dessert, after a dinner of arroz con habichuelas.

At this point, I don’t know if I’m more angry, sad, or disgusted.  I do know I wish we were a smarter country.  Smart enough for everyone here to understand we are a nation built on the backs of immigrants, after stealing the land from the Native Americans already living here.  Guess they didn’t count, since they didn’t speak English.  Guess what?  You, in your racist spouting household probably have traditional meals included in your pure American Thanksgiving dinner that are actually throwbacks to your family’s heritage.  Potato salad?  German.  Pasta?  Italian.  Butter cookies? Norwegian.  Corn?  Beans?  Squash?  The three sisters are Native American, and you should stop serving all three because Native Americans certainly aren’t what you mean when you talk about real Americans.  And I’ve got another little surprise for you, all the rhetoric you’re spewing, about these Mexicans/Domincans/Haitians/Koreans/fillintheblankins, you know, the crap about not learning English, not becoming American enough for your taste, their strange foods, the way they’re taking your jobs and your wimmenz…not original or new.  The same tired fearful and fear mongering lines have been spouted for two centuries of immigration.   I’m very sorry to tell you, the good old days weren’t what you think they were.

English: A Turkish immigrant in New York (1912).

English: A Turkish immigrant in New York (1912). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish we were smart enough to understand that we are not an isolationist nation and never were.  I wish we were smart enough to understand that instead of trying to fit everyone into a cracked mold that’s a figment of stultified imaginations, we need to move forward, leave this nonsense behind.  I wish we were smart enough to understand that the affordable air travel, internet and cell phones have brought us more than resort vacations, Candy Crush, and sexting.  We are living in a global economy.  Guess who’s going to get ahead in a global economy?  Those who are able to respect cultures other than the one they grew up in; those who speak more than one language, those who aren’t terrified by the sight of someone who has different skin color, eye shape, hair texture, religious beliefs, clothing or customs than their own.   Those who don’t vomit hatred because their sacred game has been tainted by nothing.

That’s right, I said it. Nothing.  You’re up in arms because the ridiculously priced commercials selling shit you don’t need during a game dared to show America as it is, not your fantasy of what it should be.

I just got off of the train.  On the subway I hear English, spoken with a broad number of American accents.  I hear English spoken with accents from Ireland, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, Guyana, Australia, South Africa, Ghana, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Papa New Guinea.  I hear Spanish, Italian, French, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, Portuguese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Yiddish, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, languages from Scandinavia and languages from Africa.  I don’t know who was born here, who’s an immigrant–documented or undocumented–who’s a tourist here to pump thousands of dollars into our economy.  Shocking though this might be, I don’t care.  It’s beautiful to my ears, part of being an American in New York.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in New England, including the more rural areas where it’s truly rare to see a person of color or hear a language other than English.  Also beautiful, also part of America.  I’ve spent time down South, where outside of the major cities you don’t hear as many different languages, but still a few, and see many people of color.  Beautiful.  I’ve spent time in the Southwest, where there are more Native Americans, and I heard bits of languages rarely if ever heard in NYC.  Beautiful.  Time in the Pacific Northwest, where I heard more Norwegian words and influences than I hear in the east, heard languages and saw faces originating from Alaskan Native cultures.  Beautiful.  To me, that’s what makes America.  It’s vast, our population is huge and mixed, influences from all over the world are seen, heard, and felt in our in language, music, food, and clothing.  My America isn’t more or less American than yours.

I want to be clear, when you say things like “I don’t mean you,” you do.  You mean my children, my family, my friends, my neighbors.  When my kid is chosen for a job over you or yours, it isn’t and won’t be because of looks or last name.  It will be because he has always and continues to work his ass off, speaks three languages, knows how to be respectful and appreciative of all cultures and focus on commonalities in our global economy.

I’m not a politician, not a sociologist or anthropologist, not an academic, not in marketing or advertising.  I’m not a mover or shaker in any circle, no impressive degrees, haven’t traveled the world, really not that smart.  A plain old gal living on the fringe.  But I know  the commercial  that prompted this latest round of bullshit has nothing to do with anything you’re whining about.  It’s about the Coca-Cola company wanting to reach the broadest possible audience, so the next time you’re in front of a display in the store, choosing between Coke and Pepsi, you spend your dollars on Coke.  And I will. Or I would, if I drank soda–or pop, or coke, depending on what region of the US you’re in.

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30 comments

  1. I love you, and you KNOW I do, but why does my difference of opinion make me a racist? It’s ok to have different opinions on things and still love each other. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t make me some hateful racist that hates everyone that doesn’t agree with me or isn’t like me. Its’ ok for me to think Coke did something distasteful. Does it make me a hateful racist? No. Does it make you a racist because you think otherwise? No. At the end of the day, I still love you for YOU, your opinions and all.

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    1. I know Paul, and I feel the same about you. But. The reality is that it is racist to feel that people who speak other languages, people from other cultures and countries are un-American. It takes nothing away from America, and only strengthens and enriches our culture and position in the global community to acknowledge and learn about the many cultures that contribute to America, and being an American.

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      1. Why do you feel the need to assimilate to them instead of having them assimilate to us? If I moved to Mexico I would have to assimilate to them and learn Spanish. Same with almost any country in the world. America’s predominant language is English, and asking them to learn it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. There is a trailer park down the road from me that flies a Mexican flag over the American flag. I don’t think that’s right, and when I say that I get called a racist.

        I understand that we are made up of immigrants. But as immigrants we assimilated to the people already here. It shouldn’t be the other way around.

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        1. I don’t see it as us and them. People take pride in their heritages, I see many flags flying alongside the American flag here in NY, doesn’t take anything away from America. People who move here do learn to speak English, but continuing to speak their first language, teaching it to their children, are smart. The more people, the more cultures you can communicate with, the better.

          Again, there isn’t 1 way to live and be American, and we aren’t a nation of 1 type of immigrant. Throughout our history, there has always been a resentment of and fear of new immigrants–even though those immigrants work our farms, build our roads, bridges, sewers, etc. The backbone of our nation, seriously. Then add in the more highly educated workforce that comes over–I think we’d have about 1/10th the nurses and doctors without immigrants.

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  2. what a beautiful commercial. my grandparents (all 4) were immigrants. The children I work with tell me about their parents that work 7 days a week to try and make it here . They live, sometimes 15 in a 2 room apartment (they come to school exhausted due to noise) I work in the projects so they cant play outside. If we just worried about ourselves and were kind to others then life would be ok. Is it really that hard?

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    1. Agree, Susan, all the way around. Too many worry about a problem that isn’t a problem, or shouldn’t be. All of us are coming from varied backgrounds, and whether our families came here 1 generation ago or 15 generations ago, if our families aren’t 100% Native American, we should be respectful and understanding that America = immigrants.

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      1. Paul, not sure when Susan can pop back on, but I can tell you at least 3/4 (if not 4/4) of her grandparents were Italian immigrants.
        In the late 1800s and early 1900s, all of the comments made now about Latino immigrants were made about the Italians. They were only able to get the lowest paying jobs,most dangerous jobs, manual labor, lived in overcrowded tenements, were looked down upon in every way, considered too dark, too slow in learning English and American customs…

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        1. yes all 4 came through Ellis Island From Italy, I from Sicily, 1 from Calabria, 2 from Genoa. They worked in factories (my fathers father was a shoemaker, Shoes are in my blood 😀 ) When my paternal grandfather saved enough money he opened a shoe repair shop on willoughby St in Brooklyn. Later my father owned it. My maternal grandparents were first cousins, big controversy. it was an arrange marriage, a business agreement. I know most of the story, It would make a great novel. My mother swears this is why I am so sickly ;).

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  3. Wow, I completely missed the Coke ad controversy. It’s sad to see that there should be backlash over such a beautiful ad. I think being so multi-cultural is part of what makes America wonderful.

    I don’t think the Coke ad is saying, “Hey folks, there is no need for you to learn English even if you live in America!” Rather, I see it as a nod, an acknowledgement, that many Americans are bi-or even tri-lingual. Isn’t that a fact we should be proud of? It’s a great resource, and one which I think should be lauded. We have people who can convey our message in every language there is in the world. If you owned a company that wants to branch out to Mexico, you’d be spoiled for choice by the number of intelligent, well-educated people who speak both English and Spanish fluently. I fail to see that as a drawback.

    When I lived in Singapore, the government and its people were very proud to be a multi-cultural country. They celebrated four different cultural holidays: Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya, and Christmas. The four are public holidays in Singapore, which I think is so awesome. On National Day, there would be dances from all four cultures and more. Singaporean food itself is derived from a mix of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian dishes, and people from all over the world are always raving about it. The country has embraced all these different cultures without losing its own identity. There isn’t a fear of becoming something different, only a confidence that it will evolve into something better than before. Compare Singapore to its neighboring country, Indonesia. Indonesia is much more closed-off to outside influence. A couple years back, the government even decided to take English lessons out of the syllabus in public schools, because they are afraid that learning English would cause the kids to somehow become “less Indonesian”. It’s a terrible decision which I’m sure would impact the kids’ lives in a negative way. How could not knowing an additional language help anyone?

    I guess the difference is that some of us see the addition of other cultures as something that will strengthen the nation instead of take away from it. :-/

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    1. A very eloquent and thoughtful take on this, Putputt–thank you.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with Singapore vs Indonesia, a clear example of how the different viewpoints can enhance or shrink a nation and its people. And now I really want to go visit Singapore!
      You and I definitely agree–but you’re able to say it without the cursing and sputtering I spew 😉

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  4. I wish you had a loud speaker and could read this blog post to all the millions who watched the Superbowl. I agree with everything you said. Other flags do not denigrate the Stars and Stripes, they compliment it; other languages demonstrate a people proud and confident in their difference yet all united under the umbrella ‘American”. It’s not that difficult as a concept to grasp!

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. 🙂 I completely agree. Yes, America is an umbrella, I don’t quite understand why so many seem to confuse fear with pride. Mrs Fringe is the closest to a loudspeaker I’ve got–feel free to link 😉

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  5. WTF?
    To those saying that “they” should be assimilating to “us” — how are those moccasins fitting? This country’s never been anything but a mass of “them” who are really “us.” I’m the grandchild of immigrants. America is not blue blooded Mayflower descendants. Two generations ago, it was the Irish and Italians everybody was worried about. Now we’ll all drink green beer on St. Patrick’s day and watch TV shows about Italian cooking and complain about other “others.”

    My main complaint (tempered with admiration, because I’m cynical) about the commercial is that it was clearly calculated to create buzz. That’s the social media age for you — TV commercial as a launch pad into the real ad space. And here I am, participating.

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    1. I agree completely. I’ve known many people, and I think I’ve only met 1 who was actually a descendant of the Pilgrims.

      And yes, the point of the commercial was to create buzz and get people thinking of Coca-Cola. Mission accomplished 😀

      Welcome to Mrs Fringe, Michael–thank you for joining in! 🙂

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  6. Yes, thank you.

    I didn’t know about the commercial (no television *gasp* more UnAmericanism) ’til I saw a thread about the “backlash” on Absolute Write. What utter bullshit. What ignorance. It makes me sad, and angry.

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  7. I am a Canadian and I say that’s racist commercial. Coke has all the money they need to purchase skilled marketers, who create compelling ads that pluck the heart strings. However, I can see through that thin transparency and what I see is an ugly pattern that will no doubt be repeated and mimicked over and over again by other marketers.

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  8. I loved the commercial. I have to go back to the early 1700’s to find an immigrant in my tree, but they are there. I grew up in the southwest and had schoolmates who were from Mexico, Argentina, Chile – my first friend was a girl named Francis who spoke no English at all. I loved the idea of her saying the same thing only differently. I love the idea that America the Beautiful is beautiful because of the people from all over the world who make it America.

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