It intrigues and saddens me to notice how often celebrations of diversity result in xenophobia.
One of this year’s Superbowl ads is a shining example of this.
Coke ran an ad featuring the song America the Beautiful, sung in seven different languages and featuring a diversity of cultures and people. The backlash on twitter and on the comment feed were instantaneous. Many comments were about language – and the sentiment that people should speak English in America.
We may be tempted to shake our heads here “up north” at our southern neighbours and assume that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen here. But I’m afraid we would be wrong.
Xenophobia is everywhere. As is ignorance about our countries’ histories as colonized nations.
Remember, except for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants here.
That would make the official languages of the Americas a variety of Aboriginal languages. Some of these are still spoken today – but many have been extinguished as a result of colonization, residential schools and various other forms of genocide that sadly many of us don’t know about, because they generally aren’t part of the school curriculum (see my earlier post about that, and the debate of the use of the word genocide).
So once again an attempt to highlight the beauty of diversity has instead brought out the ugliness of living in countries that some people claim as “theirs” while discounting the original inhabitants (and the difficult history of contact as well as the difficult reality of their present situations such as high rates of poverty and incarceration), as well as the many contributions of those who are considered to be immigrants (read: people of colour).
But it’s a great ad.
Copyright 2014 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.