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America Is Beautiful, Except When We Are Ugly

With my Patriots out of the running, I had no vested interest in watching the Super Bowl this year. Bruno Mars is great, but he is not one of my favorites so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the Halftime Show either. This year I decided to skip the parties, leave my jersey in the closet and watch the game from the comfort of my own couch for the same reason most Americans tune in to the football marathon-for the commercials.

I am typically a fan of the commercials when I catch them, but in the past I haven’t given my undivided attention. Without the need to armchair quarterback this year, I focused my attention on choosing the winners and losers of the ad game. There were certainly a handful of good commercials, but one that hit me immediately as the commercial of the night. Coca Cola – “It’s Beautiful.”

For those of you who missed the ad, the commercial features people of all ages and races from all walks of life living their America. As the video pans from breathtaking landscape scenes to powerful single portraits of Americans, children alternate singing lines of “America the Beautiful” in their native tongue. There was brilliance about having children, the most innocent among us, singing such a powerful reflection of what makes our country beautiful.

The fact that it was a Coca Cola commercial was lost on me. For me the ad was selling the diversity and beauty of the American Dream. In one short minute, the ad embodied everything that I think makes America beautiful: the diversity of our people, the common melody in our languages, the innocence of our children, and the common threads that unite us as a country. What’s not to love? Apparently a lot.

I have to say, I wasn’t surprised by others’ reactions to the commercial. In fact, I expected a backlash. I immediately checked Twitter just to see how quickly the Twitterverse was imploding. After my initial moment of American pride, my joy subsided and I felt like a cynic. Why should my thoughts immediately after seeing the beauty of America be ruined by comments that highlight the ugliness of our country?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. Social media was exploding in outrage over the audacity of Coca Cola to feature non-Americans singing America the Beautiful in languages other than English. #SpeakAmerican and #SpeakEnglish were immediately trending on social medial along with an expletive laced cheap shot at Coca Cola. I wasn’t shocked by the comments, maybe that in and of itself is a problem. I was saddened by the ugliness on display and the ignorance of our own people.

Some Americans speak languages other than English. That does not make them any less America or any less patriotic. It does not make them ignorant. It makes them cultured. Some Americans wear hijabs. That doesn’t make them terrorists or a threat to our religious freedom. Some Americans drink Pepsi instead of drinking Coke. And that is not an indicator of their American Pride. All of these things are expressions of who we are and combined are expressions of limitless possibilities American beauty holds.

I had a choice to make: I could jump down the rabbit hole of divisiveness and ignorance by continuing to read the negative tweets and comments, or I could choose to embrace Coca Cola’s powerful message of beauty and unity. It wasn’t a difficult decision. I chose beauty over ugliness. I chose unity over division. I chose the America that I know and love. #AmericaIsBeautiful

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