I know there are people who hate Coca-Cola, because of it’s history. And I know people hate Coca-Cola because it causes diabetes in our people. I mean when I go home, I am offered a coke, more than I would be offered water. So there are many reasons to hate coke. (By the way, I have not had a coke since 2013, the one resolution I ever kept, so far.) But instead of bashing coke for it’s history with or for the health issues it causes, I want to give my take on the Superbowl commercial that caused the Tea Party to twist their chonies in a bunch. With the recent outburst of racist and angry commentary over the Super bowl Coca Cola commercial, it never surprises me when people think we should all speak one language in this country. The Coca Cola commercial was a supposed tribute to the diversity of the melting pot America with a rendition of America the Beautiful sung in seven different languages. These languages being, English, Spanish, Hindi, Keres, Tagalog, Senegalese French and Hebrew.
Of course right wing pundits, conservatives, and Glenn Beck attacked Coca Cola. Angry tweets of people promising to ban Coca Cola in the name of freedom. It not only showed how many people in this country feel about immigration, it also showed how many people also did not know that America The Beautiful is not the national anthem. It showed that many people will not get over the fact that not everyone was born here in America.
When I read about stuff like this, it makes me want to say, “Wait, I am not a ghost?” How can so many people in this country forget about us? The Indigenous people of this land, the Native Americans, or American Indians? I realize as a percentage of the population, we are about 1%, but we are still here. I know that because of the use of our race as a mascot, it seems as if we are a part of the past, but we are still here.
Sure only one of our over 500 languages made it on the Coca Cola commercial. But this land had hundreds of nations and languages before 1492. In all of the Americas, there were thousands. The landing on immigrants here was the beginning of the American holocaust. Native people of this land were killed for land, for gold, etc. This attempted genocide continued for over half a century and never ended. In the late 1800’s, Native children were taken from their homes and put in military like residential schools from the age of 4 to 18. Often taken away from parents in handcuffs and not allowed to communicate with parents. Many times children died while at these schools, they were abused physically, sexually, and mentally. They were beaten until they spoke only English.
See, there were many beautiful languages on this land before English was ever even spoken here. These children who were beaten for speaking their own language were our grandparents and great grandparents. Today, there are many language revitalization programs on reservations, starting with immersion daycare. It is a beautiful thing to see a 4 year old more fluent than her parents. With hope, hard work, and determination our languages will come back after they tried to beat it out of our ancestors for so many years.
Many times people who think so narrow minded, that English should be the only language here, often forget this is not “Their America”, instead it is the land that we belong to. So when I see so many people angry over the fact that there are other languages in this country, I smile. When I see people rant over the fact that their city has 5 versions of one phone book, I know how they feel. See, these people forgot that they are not original to this land, we are. And I know how they feel, because the same anger they have for there being so many languages in America is the same anger I have for our languages almost dying off. And I am tempted to tell them the three words every Native American hates to hear:
“Get over it.”