Over is the yearlong wait for the annual mega-football game -- if that's what you want to call this year's bowl. While I enjoy each year's representation of sportsmanship and the strategy behind each team's physical prowess, I grow more interested when the commercials start to air. As a publicist, I feel obliged to experience the carefully crafted messaging created for some of the world's most familiar brands and products during the Rodeo Drive priced advertisements, which occurs in between team huddles.
I found much of this year's commercials to be long and a bit muddled, with exception of a few. Some may have missed the commercials altogether this year as bewilderment set in over team strategies and plays. I could not help but be in awe of Coca Cola's "America The Beautiful" commercial. The spoken and visual messages were spot on. What, a diverse America? We speak different languages? Beautiful. I thought society was ready for a message of diversity.
Within minutes some people took to social media in disgust. Hashtags like #SpeakAmerican and #BoycottCoke were all over the tworld and Facebook feeds. Thank you for sharing your true colors, people! Some of the tweets and posts were absolutely degrading, unintelligent and reflective of an America of years past.
Not all hope was lost though; many took offense and stood up for the message of diversity and unity. Atlanta-based WXIA's Brenda Woods made an impassioned response during her "Last Word" segment that made me beam from ear to ear.
Woods laid into the small-minded posts, declaring, "The quote on the Statue of Liberty doesn't say 'give me your English-speaking only, Christianity-believing, heterosexual masses.' It says 'give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses tempest-tost.'" She continued, "Have we forgotten that every one of us 'Americans' except for Native Americans, are descendants of foreigners? That the English language is from England?"
Cody Pueo Pata, a Native Hawaiian award winning recording artist who also belongs to the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki people of Northern California fashioned his own response to #SpeakAmerican. Pata is fluent in Hawai'i's native language, 'ōlelo Hawai'i and has been studiously learning and assisting in the revitalization of the language of his Nomlaki people.
Cody shared his version of #SpeakAmerican. He translated "America the Beautiful" into an ancient voice that once resonated North America daily, into the language of the Nomlaki People. Pata writes of his translated tribute, "I dedicate my rendition of 'America the Beautiful' to those who wish to make a mockery of this Great Land. This is for all those who believe we should 'Speak American.'" He continued in saying, "It's an honor for me to be able to speak our Nomlaki language. It survived devastating epidemics, attempted genocide, slavery and indentured servitude, divorce from our original homelands, and an intense Americanization process through the policies of American Indian boarding schools. I am so privileged to be amongst the first of my tribe's new generation of speakers."
While I shuddered at some of the shallow-minded responses to Coca Cola's one minute of brilliance, my thoughts of humanity were soon lifted by the boldness and passion of two individuals from opposite ends of the country. Thank you Brenda Woods and Cody Pueo Pata, thank you!