Opinion: #SpeakAmerican


Kent Kirker is a junior Education major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Kent Kirker

It’s been more than a week since the Super Bowl, and in that time, social media in America has once again shown its ugly side. One 90-second ad in particular received a considerable amount of backlash. The commercial, which aired near the middle of Super Bowl XLVIII, was a Coca-Cola ad demonstrating the diversity and beauty of America. The title and tagline of the ad was hashtagged “America is Beautiful,” and a collage of American landscapes, ethnicities and lifestyles set the visual backdrop of the commercial, which featured a rendition of “America The Beautiful” sung in nine different languages, including English, Arabic, Hindi, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Mandarin and Tagalog.

When I saw this Coca-Cola commercial, it made me tear up with pride that can be traced to my belief that we are all created equal — an idea deeply rooted in America’s origins. It could also come from my observation of human movements in the young but long history of our country. After all that we have gone through as a people, we have come so far yet have a long way to go. As an active promoter of human rights, inclusiveness and equality, it is easy to see the wrongs still prevailing in modern everyday life.

In this situation, it began with social media. Almost immediately after the commercial aired, Twitter was aflutter with support, as well as bigotry and closed-mindedness. Before long,  #SpeakAmerican was a worldwide trending topic. Natural curiosity made me explore the trend, and what I found was appalling. While some of those who were posting were defending the ad, the majority were tweeting ugliness. Things like: “We live in America, #SpeakAmerican.” This is coming from people who tell others they don’t speak Mexican or even know our National Anthem.

How does one speak American? We all know they are referring to American English. However, English is not our official language — the U.S. doesn’t have an official de jure national language. With that being said, even English is a foreign language. English has its origins with the Anglo-Saxons, an early Germanic group that spoke a makeup of dialects known as Old English. The modern English language was influenced by Old Norse as well. The word “English” even comes from the name Angles or Anglish. We also have adopted or borrowed words from many other languages and made them our own. Even our Hindu-Arabic number system is foreign, coming this time from the Middle East.

What do we take away from this? America is a beautiful and diverse country filled with many types of people. Instead of rushing to judgment, why don’t we as a people try something different and act American? Life is too short to waste on hate and alienation.

If you would like to find out more about what you can do to help, you can go to charactersunite.com. Keep the conversation going by hashtagging #ActAmerican in social media posts. With this, we can begin to change the world one post at a time!