I am not a patriot by normal standards, but it would be a lie to proclaim that my heartstrings were not strummed by Coca-Cola’s Superbowl ad. It spoke to my sense of togetherness and harmony. It was an advertisement, meant to sell a product, but it was one that brought a tear to my eye.
Five seconds in, I knew that the commercial would be controversial. I knew that there would be countless people calling for a boycott of Coke and all of their products. Coca-Cola’s offenses? They let little girls sing America the Beautiful in languages other than American English. Oh, and they dared to put a gay couple on screen for five seconds.
Tell me again that racism is dead. Tell me again that we have equality.
The land that makes up the United States was stolen from the people who called it home. The thieves dragged people here in chains and denied their humanity. Coca-Cola has reminded us (or at least those that were able to forget) that culture, skin color, language, and love is still considered an enemy in the U.S. of A when it is labelled as ‘other’.
Within minutes of the ad being aired, #boycottcoke was trending on Twitter. A man I have known since I was a teen who has served in the Air Force since high-school graduation was among those calling Coke unpatriotic and describing their ad as an outrage.
I was simultaneously shell-shocked and unsurprised. How could someone who has dedicated his life to upholding American ideals possibly say that in this country “we speak American”? WHAT?
The United States does not have an official language. Nor do we have an official religion. We are not a country of straight, white, English-only Christians, no matter what some conservatives say.
It is time for America to choose. Are we the melting pot that is simmering together to make a tasty dish even though many of the ingredients have been bitter with cruelty? Or are we a factioned, intolerant nation whose lofty promises of acceptance and equality were nothing more than propaganda?
The choice is real and it is being made now. If “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is ever going to be more than just a pretty phrase, we have to stop arguing about the definition of ‘American’.
Enough with the racism. Enough with the homophobia.
Coca-Cola should not be given a commendation or a condemnation. Their ad should not have brought tears of happiness or cries of anger. Our unity as humans should be a given regardless of where we are from, what language we speak, or who we fall in love with.
The land may be breathtaking, but America will not be beautiful until the hatred stops.