After the obvious cues of taking selfies on the metro or in front of the colosseum, butchering Italian phrases and walking around with one’s eyes glued to a map, there is a sure fire way of spotting a tourist.
They’re not Italian.
With my fingers crossed, I hope to be so integrated in Italian culture that I shame the “ugly-American” persona. Unfortunately, even with my new eurochic poncho, I still have one small thing working against me.
I’m not Italian.
Living in the US for my whole life, I never really thought about the variation in ancestry, races and personal styles that surround me. Here, people don’t describe their nationality with fractions and what sounds like a roll call at the UN. They’re Italian.
Discovering this cultural difference and appreciation for American diversity explains why I was so surprised and disgusted by headlines following the Superbowl.
I was unable to watch the Super Bowl, but I dedicated some quality should-be-studying-for-Italian time to catching up on the commercials, which I always look forward to. I love seeing how companies decide to present themselves as a brand and how they strive to forge a sustainable connection with people they have never and will never meet. I love seeing how advertisements can, in 40 seconds, mirror our cultural norms, values and stances on social issues.
So, when brands like Coke and Cheerios do just that, and receive such a degree of backlash, it’s appalling. I could go on a tangent about each advertisement’s strategies, but the point is the underlying message of diversity. The same diversity that I am admiring from a country that I can’t slip into the cracks of, based on German and English heritage.
I don’t have anything to share with anyone who has an issue with interracial families, Americans who speak English as a second language, or any of the realistic dynamics displayed in these commercials. The chances of these bigots landing on a blog post that would inspire them to love everyone are slim to none. The chances of it being this one, even lower.
But what I can share, is a different perspective inspired from a different country. I can share my appreciation for numerous races being united by the title “American.” I can share my hope that ads like these will always be celebrated, and that people won’t hesitate to speak out against wrongful racism and ethnocentrism, even if it is just in one blog post.