At Tuesday night's NBA finals game, Sebastien De La Cruz's rendition of the national anthem — a song intended to represent unity and patriotism — catalyzed the opposite reaction.
The 10-year-old Mexican-American mariachi singer was selected to perform the national anthem before game two of the NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. According to an article on Salon, he has been dubbed the "Boy With the Golden Voice” due to standout performances on NBC's hit show, America's Got Talent.
The performance unleashed a flood of racist discourse. According to Salon, the criticism went viral and "Twitter erupted in racism last night, letting the Mexican-American De La Cruz know full well that he wasn’t welcome to sing the National Anthem at such a prestigious sporting event."
The Latin Times reported one tweet from @A2daO: "This lil Mexican snuck in the country like 4 hours ago now he singing the anthem." Salon revealed another tweet by Twitter user @Baller_Benny32, who wrote, "Shit we gota Mexican signing our national anthem (: only in San Antonio." Many used hash-tags such as #yournotamerican and #gohome.
From the backlash, however, many Americans jumped to Cruz's defense. An article in The Daily Dot applauded Cruz's performance calling him "fantastic," "dynamic," and "theatrical,"and that he performed with "so much strength that you could fully believe in the American dream."
The outcry against Cruz's performance is not only racist, but it is a stain on our nation's conscience and a reminder of the racism, ignorance, and hatefulness that persist in society. Cruz's performance demonstrated bravery, talent and strength. It is sickening and shameful that this performance by an innocent young boy could elicit such a negative reaction from part of the American public. It is a sign of public ignorance that must be overcome.
De La Cruz's admirable character shone through in his reaction to the public onslaught. He spoke confidently and with a smile, overcoming his racist critics. On a television appearance, he said "They don’t know my life. My father was actually in the Navy for a really long time… People don’t know, they just assume that I’m just Mexican. But I’m not from Mexico, I’m from San Antonio born and raised, a true San Antonio Spurs fan," according to The Huffington Post.
The fact that De La Cruz is American is almost irrelevant. His critics demanded to hear an anthem about bravery, triumph and unity, but expressed outrage when someone who they deemed "not American" performed it. They are hypocrites whose ignorance should not be tolerated.