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Sebastian De La Cruz’s National Anthem Performance refers to a rendition of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” sung by an 11-year-old boy during a National Basketball Association (NBA) game in June 2013, which resulted in a barrage of racist remarks directed at the young Mexican-American singer on Twitter.
In the summer of 2012, De La Cruz appeared as a contestant on the talent show America’s Got Talent (shown below, left), managing to progress all the way to the show’s semifinal round. On June 11th, 2013, De La Cruz was invited to sing the the United States national anthem at an NBA Finals game between the San Antonia Spurs and the Miami Heat (shown below, right).
Immediately following the broadcast of his performance, many Twitter users watching the broadcast began mocking the Hispanic heritage of De La Cruz with racial slurs. On June 12th, the Internet news site The Daily Dot published an article about the racist tweets, highlighting several examples (shown below).
San Antonio Mayor’s Reaction
On the same day, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro tweeted words of encouragement to De La Cruz, telling him to not let the racist remarks bother him. In the first 48 hours, the tweet gained over 440 retweets and 200 favorites.
Sebastien de la Cruz, your rendition of the national anthem was spectacular! Don't let a few negative voices get you down.
selcharrodeoro</a></p>— Mayor Julián Castro (JulianCastro) June 13, 2013
De La Cruz’s Reaction
Also on June 12th, De La Cruz was interviewed by Fox 29 news, during which he revealed that he was born and raised in San Antonio and that his father was in the United States Navy (shown below, left). On the following day, De La Cruz spoke with the KENS 5 San Antonio news station in which stated that he was not letting the racist remarks bother him (shown below, right).
“With the racist remarks, it was just people how they were raised. My father and my mama told me you should never judge people how they look.”
On June 13th, Cruz was invited to sing the anthem in a second NBA Finals game. That day, President Barack Obama published a tweet encouraging followers to watch the encore performance, which accumulated upwards of 2,500 retweets and 1,500 favorites in the next 24 hours.
selcharrodeoro</a>'s encore performance of the national anthem at the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23NBAFinals&src=hash">#NBAFinals</a> in San Antonio tonight.</p>— Barack Obama (BarackObama) June 14, 2013
That evening, De La Cruz was introduced by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro prior to singing national anthem (shown below). On the following day, several news site published articles praising De La Cruz for his courage, including NPR, Gawker, Fox Sports and The Huffington Post.