Monday, February 3, 2014

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

As an artist who strives to promote diversity I LOVED this ad and am deeply saddened by the ignorant outrage against it. 

So much of the expressed opposition came/comes in the shape of name-calling and slur-slinging tweets and posts. Less crass (but equally outspoken) protest comes from people insisting that it is a great disrespect to sing a song so meaningful to our nation in any language but English. To these people I wish to remind that not even a year ago a very similar backlash occurred against a Mexican-AMERICAN child who sang our national ENGLISH.

Today, I am transported back to a time in my youth when I did everything in my power to subdue my Latino heritage in order to "fit in" and achieve a semblance of acceptance and social success. It didn't take long from the time we arrived in New Jersey from Puerto Rico for me to realize that I where I came from set me apart from so many of the other children in a very distinct way. The kids who spoke English as a second language kept to themselves, mostly. At best, they were not included in group activities, at worst we were laughed or giggled at if we had trouble reading out loud or answering a question due to the language barrier. It didn't matter that we were trying. I had to repeat a year of school due to this difference and I managed to master the English language just enough to "pass" and get by without much issue by only putting forth my Italian heritage from that point on. Ironically, it was my Italian-American mother who felt great disappointment at this and insisted I should always be proud of my Caribbean upbringing.
I really only remember one or two other Hispanic students (I'm sure there were more) in my high school class. So much a secret did I wish to keep my Latino heritage in order to fit in, that I was afraid to show too much knowledge of my own first language and would occasionally fumble a question or two in Spanish class. How ridiculous of me. It wasn't until I became an adult that I began to gain the confidence to truly understand the importance of being true to ones roots.

I feel for every kid out there who today sat in a classroom or opened up twitter or Facebook only to see a country (their country) outraged over a tv ad that simply depicted that America is made of many colors and cultures and that each culture on this land has (or should have) the freedom to express their love for this nation and the American dream in a way that is authentic to who they are and wherever they may originally come from.

1 comment:

akartisan said...

there has been a lot of discussion over that commercial on facebook about how people are outraged about the name calling and slurs. There was an earlier version of the same commercial a few years ago with people of all different ethnicities, but the whole song was sung in english that time.