Monday, July 3, 2017

July 4th, 2017: Founding Fathers' descendants are a statement on America's diversity

Closing image of the Ancestry.com commercial.

A TV COMMERCIAL debuted last week, just in time for America's Independence Day on July 4th, is causing a stir in Trump's America.

The television ad for Ancestry.com, a company that provides services to help one track one's genealogy, spotlight's the diversity of today's America by recreating the famous John Trumbull portrait of our nation's founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence and using descendants of those men to recite the famous moving preamble.

The 29 descendants - men, women and children from different ethnicities - spotlights the diversity that makes up the United States of America

Although the commercial is for Ancestry.com, the underlying message is that our country is already diverse whether you like it or not, and its history is a lot more complex than what's depicted in high school history texts.

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"We're all much more similar than you think," said Ancestry Chief Marketing Officer Vineet Mehra in an interview. "And we're using facts and data to prove it. This is not fluffy marketing. These are facts."

The weakness of Ancestry.com and their competitors is that when it comes to tracing Asian/American roots, there is a lack of data in their files.

That situation will undoubtedly change as these genealogy companies try to attract the increasingly diverse clientele of the United States, especially the lucrative Asian/American market which is more economically powerful than its comparatively small (but rapidly growing) population.




Mehta, who is of South Asian lineage, continued to say, “The Fourth of July is a time of great national pride, and our new campaign is a portrait of how America has evolved. Diversity isn't just something we value as Americans; it's quite literally part of who we are.” 

How we as a country have arrived at this point in time -- July 4th, 2017 -- is a complex one. The Founding Fathers were most likely not thinking about the impact of diversifying the country when they took advantage of their privileged status over their slaves.

Vineet Mehta
The United States' genealogical history, from the time when Asian traversed the ice bridge to new hunting grounds, to when Spanish explorers came upon established civilizations in North and South American, to when Native Americans encountered the European newcomers upon their shores, to the anti-misegenation laws, to the Asian bachelor societies created by immigration restrictions, is not something commonly taught in our schools, but, nevertheless, we see its affects every day. 

(Even the whitest state of all, Maine, where whites make up 95.7 of its population, has Chinese restaurants, Taco Bell's and yoga studios.)

What the commercial implicitly says, we can't move backwards, we are what we are. That's a message that runs counter to the growing white supremacist and anti-immigrant movements emboldened by a president that they believe represents their beliefs when he promises to "Make America great again."

“We are living in a time when many people feel disconnected from one another, and one of the most powerful things we can do is to show how connected we really are. Fundamentally, we all share an inherent need to know who we are and how we’re related – it can change how we view the world and how we view our future.”
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