Diversity essential to America

O-Arash Colby Patterson
Arash Tadjiki

Arash Tadjiki

The English language has become prevalent, not just throughout the nation but across the globe. Being American has devolved into being white, speaking English and perceiving the United States as superior to other nations. On Sunday, during the Super Bowl, Coke aired a commercial celebrating America’s diversity. It features a rendition of “America the Beautiful” in multiple languages, a variety of people of multiple racial backgrounds and the portrayal of a gay relationship. Time Entertainment reported eruptions of outrageous tweets posted in reaction: “WTF?” asked one post on Twitter. “@CocaCola has America the Beautiful being sung in different languages in a #SuperBowl commercial? We speak ENGLISH here, IDIOTS.” Some of the vitriol may have been satire for all I know, but there was too much to explain the “English or GTFO” sentiment. Hollywood Life reports some people even going so far as to say, “Sub yourself coke. We speak American.” and  “What was that Coke? This is America. We speak American,” with #speakamerican becoming a trending tweet.

Patriotism has become so deeply linked with speaking English that using any other language has become “unamerican.” It has evolved into a signifier of American free market capitalism and the abundance of wealth and liberty in America. It is shocking how many people believe English is the official language of the U.S., when in fact the U.S. has no official language. Buzzfeed reports, “According to the data [of the U.S. Census Bureau], 58 percent of U.S. residents age 5 and older speak English ‘very well’ and also speak a language other than English at home.” The majority of U.S. citizens speak a language other than English at home, and 47 percent of Americans are not Caucasian, according to the 2010 Census. The U.S. is home to an array of diverse humans, which makes linking exclusively one race and one language to “patriotism” arbitrary and inaccurate. These racist reactions only serve to invalidate the beauty of the multitude of cultures that constitute America.

These comments also disregard the hypocrisy that dwells within the idea that American immigrants must learn English or leave. When Americans travel abroad, they expect citizens of foreign nations to speak English. They expect to have the ability to speak to servers, cashiers and police officers in their native language, yet they are in the exact position that American immigrants are in when they migrate to the U.S. If immigrants must learn English, then Americans must learn a foreign language before traveling to another country, yet many do not. Many see learning a foreign language as “accommodating” others or “invalidating” their own love of America. In reality, learning another language and experiencing other cultures serves to enrich our country. Prior to America being colonized by the Europe, the nation consisted of multiple indigenous tribes, each having their own culture and language. Even the many Europeans who made the voyage to America spoke diverse languages and brought with them assemblages of their home country. America is a nation where people of all backgrounds unite, “indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” Diversity does not invalidate our nation; it celebrates its very existence.