3 Takaways from the Superbowl Coke Ad

If you’re like me, you missed the Coke ad during the Superbowl. Somehow… between wrangling children, baking mozzarella sticks and chatting with friends, I forgot the reason we were together in the first place: commercials.

As soon as it was over, someone mentioned it to me. Apparently, given my love for culture and my love for Coke, the ad seemed right up my ally. And it was.

In case it hasn’t been all over your news feed this week, you can watch it here. For my own twist, I’ll show you a little feature on the young lady who sang the song in Spanish.

Watching and reading the fall out, I have a few thoughts. 

“We Speak English” means “I ONLY speak English.”

Several years ago, I was mildly aware of some English-only laws being debated regarding public education. That summer I worked at an upper class, predominately Jewish camp. Almost 100% of those kids were multilingual.

Some of them were from multicultural backgrounds, but the driver was economics. Their families were preparing them for the future economy by making sure they were fluent in English, Mandarin, Farsi and other languages. I felt so behind.

I’ve also interacted with a good deal of Latino children from very modest means here in the States. They are also bilingual.

So the middle class, in my opinion, are often the holdouts arguing for English only in a society where lack of multilingualism will hold you back. It just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve sat in Spanish class with 40-year old professionals, frustrated at being passed over for promotions because they don’t have the necessary skills to advance. And that skill is language.

So many of the hateful tweets talked about “We speak English here.” As you see in this video and some of the others featuring the voices of the ads…. So do those singers.

Anyone With a Phone Can Tweet

Sometimes the critiques of social media include ideas that we all think our thoughts, opinions and voices are too important. Probably true.

But as I scrolled through tweets about this commercial that ranged from ignorant to racist to non-sensical, I must remind myself that not eveyone else’s opinion is always so important either.

Easier said than done, I know, because I feel rattled when I realize that there’s an ugly undercurrent I try to ignore sometimes. I fully acknowledge that racism cannot be ignored and there are times I need to stand against the status quo. But Twitter doesn’t always seem like the most productive place to do so.

Maybe We Can Belong Here

If you (like me) do spend a lot of time online reading about race, ethnicity and culture, you can get the hint really fast that there are many in this country who don’t welcome us.

Especially being connected to the Latino story, that sentiment of “Go home! You are not wanted!” is shouted from the virtual rooftops over and over and over again.

And even when I try to let it roll off my back, sometimes I sigh and wonder if living here will ever feel like it “fits” again.

I’ll try not to be overly sentimental, but when I watched that Coke ad, there was this tiny flutter in my heart that says, “Yay! Our family is part of this beautiful America.”

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A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.