Monday, February 3, 2014

Dear Haters

Alright.  I normally like to keep my politics to myself, especially lately, but this hits home for me as a foreign language educator.  This is an open letter to anyone who was offended by Coca-Cola's commercial with a multilingual rendition of "America the Beautiful" that aired during the Superbowl.

Dear Haters,
I noticed you were upset by last night's commercial.  I must ask why.  What can possibly be so offensive about multi-culturality?  What is un-American about other languages being spoken here?  Let me give you a hint: the answer to both questions is NOTHING.

Spoiler alert: It is impossible to have an entirely American and English-speaking line of ancestry.  IMPOSSIBLE.  If you come from a line of English-only speakers, then your ancestors came over here on a boat or a plane at some point in your family history.  If your ancestors have been on American soil as far back as they can be traced, then English was not spoken in your family until America was colonized (or well after).  Sorry to disappoint you, but you don't even fit your own definition of American. 

According to Psychology Today, as of May of 2012, it was estimated that 20% of Americans are bilingual.  For some, it is because their family speaks a language other than English.  For others, English is their native language but they chose to study another language.  Unfortunately this 20% is insanely low compared to other countries.  In Europe, roughly 50% of people are bilingual.  But this is because they aren't stuck in their little bubble of arrogance that other cultures must suck.

So I must ask you, haters of other languages and cultures, what makes something American?  Am I less of an American because I speak another language other than English?  Is the student in my class, who has lived here her whole life, less American because her parents speak Spanish at home?  Is my cousin any less of an American because she married a Canadian man and now lives in Canada with a dual-citizenship with her husband and children?  Are you that narrow-minded and ethnocentric to think that to be an American you must be all 'Murrica all the time?  Because I'd sure like to hope that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU has never purchased a single product made in another country or made with parts manufactured in another country.  I'd sure like to hope that you never use a single word on any of these lists. I'd sure like to hope you don't eat spaghetti, or tacos, or beef lo-mein, or any other dish that originates from another country other than here.

If the idea of multiple cultures and languages coming together makes you that enraged at Coca-Cola for playing an American song in languages spoken by millions of Americans, then you came to the wrong place.  Because we are in a melting pot culture.  That is the beauty of this country.  People come from all corners of the world to live here.  You can learn SO MUCH from the Hmong family next door or the Jewish family across the street.

So instead of hating something that is not your definition of "American", instead, take the time to get to know someone who comes from a different background. The world is such a violent and hateful place, and people like you aren't making it any better.  If the idea of other people, cultures and languages being considered American offends you, then you are free to go elsewhere.  Just don't let the door hit you on the behind on your way out.

An American Francophone (and damn proud of it)

Image from Cafepress


  1. Fantastic! This topic was buzzing all over our airwaves up here in Canada even, and my husband pointed out that in all liklihood, most of the people who felt anthems should ONLY be in the official language of a particular country, would be clueless about the francophone version of O Canada.

    Haters be haters... that is all!

    PS: I wish you had an easy way to follow your blog! (I vote for Bloglovin!)

    Tammy (aka Mme Aiello) @ <a href=">Teaching FSL</a>

    1. Tammy,
      You can subscribe to my blog quite easily actually. You can just add it to the list of blogs to follow in your blogspot, and then when you log in to blogspot, any posts I make will pop up.
      Hope that helps!