Coke’s Super Bowl Commercial: Why All the Hype Over Speaking English?

The internet has exploded with commentary about Coke’s 2014 Super Bowl ad in the last few days. The minute-long spot depicts people from various ethnic backgrounds participating in relatively “American” activities—road trips, movie outings, roller skating—and drinking Coke, of course.

Those who wander the internet have probably seen the trending #boycottcoke hashtag (and the ensuing debate on Twitter), as well as the discomfort among conservatives about what the ad communicates. Did we mention yet that it plays “America the Beautiful” in different languages? Apparently that gets people hyped up.

CokeAd

People claim that the ad is un-American because its vocalists do not sing entirely in English. But I’m a little confused as to why singing another language is a problem in the United States. The thing is:

  • The United States has no official language at the federal level. As this government site mentions, some (but not all) states have designated their own official languages.
  • Did you also know that people don’t have to speak English to vote? As long as they’re American citizens, their input matters. And speaking of citizenship…
  • In some circumstances, people don’t need to know English to take a citizenship test.

In general, the United States government has established a number of outlets that allow non-English speakers to participate in what our country has to offer. Not knowing English in America is undoubtedly a disadvantage anyway, for practical and cultural reasons: people who never learn it don’t get an equal chance to immerse themselves in the freedoms it offers or overcome constant discrimination.

America was built on the backs of non-English speaking immigrants—the kinds of immigrants who still face judgment for the cultural norms that differentiate them and make them unique. The fact that the United States provides lingual accommodations—and the fact that a single Coke ad isn’t entirely in English—captures more truth about our country’s origins and claims more respect for disadvantaged minorities.

What do you think about Coke’s Super Bowl ad? Leave us a comment below!

-Amanda

 

Amanda Suazo, editor, joined BSB in 2010 as the writing guru for the organization’s website, official documents, and documentary before focusing a bit on philanthropy. Now a graduate of Gonzaga University, she is currently an MBA student and freelance writer. Between Zumba classes and downing espresso, you might catch her attempting to be a vegetarian. Find her on Twitter.

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Why You Should Love Your Job Right Now (… if you weren’t furloughed)

I got a strange phone call a few weeks ago.

It was the supervisor at one of my two jobs. She said that due to a few unforeseen circumstances, I needed to stay home until things got straightened out.

I was not kept home because of mistakes on my part, at least—it was some kind of system error. But since this is one of two jobs I work, that phone call meant that I would have nothing to do for half the week.

This went on for two weeks. So if you’re the kind of person that hates their job and doesn’t care about money, you’re probably thinking That sounds awesome! I wish I could sit around and do nothing!

I don’t hate my job—and I do care a little about money—but the novelty of not having to go to work still hit me. Too bad that only lasted for a day, and then I went and got a nasty cold.

I’m the kind of person that feels the need to contribute something in order to feel meaningful in society. Heck, aren’t we all that kind of person? So sitting around feeling ill and not working made me feel meaningless. I wasn’t doing something or making something, and all I could do is read books and binge on Netflix. Not a terrible way to spend your days, but still.

JohnBoehner

In light of the US government shutdown, I can’t help but think about the hundreds of thousands of federal employees that just got told they weren’t allowed to come to work either. I am not one of them, but I imagine those that were furloughed—including people like clinical researchers, FDA inspectors, NASA engineers, and many more—are being told that their work is not meaningful enough to sustain.

There are clearly many opinions about how well the United States Congress deals with funding government programs. Beyond any criticism, I’m thinking about the kids that be going hungry because their mothers’ WIC checks didn’t come, or the ones that may not even go to school because their case workers had to stay home. Or the families that depend on housing vouchers to keep roofs over their heads. Or just the realization that hundreds of thousands of people will simply not have paychecks as many agencies are operating on emergency procedures.

It’s beyond books and Netflix now—it’s a ripple effect that will reach all of us if these people cannot return to work. If you still do have a job at the moment, be grateful for it… even if it’s not your favorite thing to do every day.

What do you think about the government shutdown? Share your thoughts below.

-Amanda

 

Amanda Suazo, editor, joined BSB in 2010 as the writing guru for the organization’s website, official documents, and documentary before focusing a bit on philanthropy. Now a graduate of Gonzaga University, she is currently an MBA student and freelance writer. Between Zumba classes and downing espresso, you might catch her attempting to be a vegetarian. Find her on Twitter.

How to Organize a Global Protest

The pace of change is picking up.

Last week I wrote about the power of youth and social media in shaping protest and instigating change. It seems today as though the move to protest is gathering steam. In Brazil, Chile, and Bulgaria, long-running protests have continued (and in some instances escalated); and in Egypt these past weeks, mass protests eventually led to a military imposition and the removal of Mohamed Morsi from power.

In all cases, different events and different grievances led to the protests. The Brazilian demonstrations began as a protest against increased bus fares, in Bulgaria it was government corruption, and in Chile demands for improved education. What they all have in common is that the protests expand and become general calls to action, a grocery list of changes and demands for a better world.

Trouble is, nobody quite knows how to satiate those generalized demands. Occupy Wall Street died with a whimper at some point in the last year (do you remember exactly when?) because an undefined call for change was never followed up with an actual procedure for it. And in 2011, protestors in Egypt began the Arab Spring and called for the removal of Hosni Mubarak from power—two years later, an eerie scene of déjà-vu plays out on the streets of Cairo.

Protest

It’s easier than ever to organize mass rallies. I mean, the protests in Chile are being largely coordinated by teenagers! Thank Facebook and more than that, Twitter, the great faceless equalizer. We can be anybody we want to be in 140 characters or less. Wanna motivate the masses? Pick a hashtag, any hashtag. And simultaneously a wave of discontentment seems to be sweeping the world. We were promised great things but they have yet to arrive. Mid-twenties crises are tough.

This isn’t me condemning or praising these ongoing global protests—just musing on a continuing theme. What I do know, though, is that change is the one constant we can all cling to. And given the choice, I’ll take the better half of change: the positive one.

-David

David Wilson graduated from the University of Texas in 2006. Since then he has gone wherever the wind blows him, living in Europe, China, and the States, and traveling extensively throughout the rest of the world. When he’s not on the move, you can find him obsessing over latte art, playing piano, or trying to bleach his hair in the sunshine. Follow him on Twitter.

World Refugee Day

“The needs of these people are overwhelming; their anguish is unbearable”

Thursday, June 20, was World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness for the increasing number of refugees worldwide. As David pointed out before, it’s a strange day to try and “celebrate.” Unlike what we have grown accustomed to with holidays, there are no presents, no turkey, no days off, no Google doodle. Instead, the observation of World Refugee Day is meant to draw attention to the world’s millions of refugees, a situation that is only getting worse.

The number of refugees is the highest it’s been since 1994. Included in the newly released UNHCR global trends report for 2012 are some startling numbers:

  • 3,000: average number of people, per day, who became refugees
  • 28,800,000: number of people displaced by armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations
  • 45,200,000: number of people worldwide considered as forcibly displaced

refugee

On World Refugee Day, the focus on Syria was prominent, as the country’s civil war has contributed significantly to the rise in new refugees. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres made Syria the central issue in his statement. Coverage of Syria most often revolves around the movements of rebel and government forces, the consequences of the conflict on the world stage.

In contrast, World Refugee Day aims to, if only for the span of twenty-four hours, move away from the debates on political implications. It, instead, recognizes the people displaced from their homes, persecuted, or forced to seek asylum in foreign countries. We, thus, “celebrate” World Refugee Day by remembering the people most affected by these global conflicts.

-Serena

Serena Yin graduated with a degree in English from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. She is joining the Washington Reading Corps to promote literacy in local schools. A New England native, she loves ballet, beaches, and hamburgers. When she’s not on the hunt for the nearest Starbucks, she’s working on realizing her lifelong dream of meeting J.K. Rowling.

Housing Aid the Latest Victim of the Sequester?

It sounds good, sure. Cut spending and there’s no need to increase taxes. Do you want to be taxed more? I don’t want to be taxed more. Simple solution. Everyone’s happy.

Only trouble is the implication that there’s enough frivolous spending in government that cuts won’t be missed. And don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of frivolous spending in government. Or perhaps we should say “not well-apportioned” spending instead. Have to tread carefully these days. However, the numbers don’t match. Trimming excess fat from a stuffed budget is one thing, cutting away vast swathes of it is something else entirely.

And so government assistance and research programs and educational institutions are all under threat. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down. And so one more victim of the dreaded sequester is housing assistance for low-income Americans. And by “one more victim,” I mean thousands more. In Fort Worth alone 99 families due to receive vouchers found them suddenly rescinded in response to sequester cuts. Play that out across the country and the numbers are telling.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan Unveils House Republicans' FY2014 Budget Resolution

To make it worse, the spending cuts not only affect any future assistance that could be provided, but they impact people relying on the assistance now. In a struggle to cope with budget cuts, cities and states are canceling promised vouchers and not renewing others—leaving families and individuals who were on the cusp of finding their feet, instead back out on the street.

The catch though is the inevitable short-sightedness of it. Instant gratification as the deficit buoys slightly? Yes please! But at what future cost when the long-term effects of losing various programs manifests? Can we even anticipate the consequences?

As a modern, “enlightened” society, we can’t let all these people fall through the cracks. I stress can’t because it frustrates me personally to think that that could happen. But from an objective viewpoint, I could say the same thing. The United States can’t let these people fall through the cracks. Not without suffering the consequences of a class increasingly isolated and ignored by the powers that be and the trauma of an ever-increasing disparity of wealth. Nevertheless, that is precisely what we are doing. But at some point something has to be done. We’re all in this together. Right? Maybe? Please say yes.

Something does have to be done. And when that crux moment arrives, will we not think that we would have been better off giving them the initial assistance they needed to make it on their own? Rather than attempting to pick up the pieces? The pieces that we ourselves are so casually letting fall right now.

-David

 

David Wilson graduated from the University of Texas in 2006. Since then he has gone wherever the wind blows him, living in Europe, China, and the States, and traveling extensively throughout the rest of the world. When he’s not on the move, you can find him obsessing over latte art, playing piano, or trying to bleach his hair in the sunshine. Follow him on Twitter.