Young Sebastien De La Cruz set an example of maturity and freshness while singing the U.S. national anthem during two NBA Finals. The first time as the pride of his city, San Antonio, home to the Spurs; the second, as an apology to him for the racist comments that his first performance prompted in social media.
The image of Sebastien dressed in a mariachi outfit unleashed a series of comments that were as hateful as they were ignorant. The authors of these comments turned to the simplicity of stereotypes. Apparently, it never occurred to them that a child who sings The Star-Spangled Banner extraordinarily well, in accentless English, is anything other than an undocumented immigrant who is doing something inappropriate in that placebecause of what he wore.
In reality, Sebastien was born in that Texas city and is a very proud American, thanks to the values instilled in him by his father Juan, who was in the U.S. Navy for years.
This is an example of how prejudice and ignorance usually go hand in hand. The former judged the child based on his appearance, while the latter was ignorant of the fact that in San Antonio, Texas, mariachi is part of a culture as American as The Alamo.
We are concerned that this way of thinking is represented in Congress by lawmakers who have the future of immigration reform in their hands.
These politicians, for example, are the ones who make judgments based on stereotypeslike saying that all undocumented immigrants are dangerous, or failing to recognize that the young Dreamers are as American as any of their peers of similar ages who were born in this very diverse nation.
Sebastien’s reaction when faced with ignorance and prejudice was simple: “If they don’t like mariachi, that’s their problem.” In Congress, the way to fight the worst enemies of reform is with truth and knowledge.