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Sebastien De La Cruz Talks Mariachi Music, School, And Race

Sebastien.jpg
Joey Palacios
Sebastien De La Cruz visits the TPR studios.

On Fronteras: His singing is beautiful; it takes you to another place because of his passion and joy. It connects even to those who don't always understand the words. On this special edition of Fronteras, we meet up with 12-year-old mariachi performer, "El Charro De Oro,” San Antonio’s own, Sebastien De La Cruz.

You probably remember Sebastien from the controversy and headlines he ignited during and after his performance of the National Anthem in Game Three of the NBA finals last year. The Latino boy performed, as usual, in a full traditional mariachi outfit.

His appearance was greeted by a string of racist tweets (we won’t repeat the slurs here). But Sebastien’s very classy and unexpectedly mature response to the mudslinging stole the show.

“I just told everybody, it’s childish for you to do that, when you tell your children not to bully at school or anywhere, what are the parents doing?” said Sebastien.

He got overwhelming support too. The Spurs asked him back to sing again in Game Four and both President Obama and the then San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro, weighed in, on his behalf. Castro introduced him during his encore TV performance. Watch the video here:

http://youtu.be/m4EEpsNQojs

Sebastien signifies the best of America, as a concept, not just as a country; that of a nation built on the dreams and hopes of immigrants and their children, a nation that gains its strength from the diversity of its people and its ability to allow them to be different, and yet, be American.

You see that strength in the Irish-American celebration of St. Patrick's Day, which has been embraced by countless non-Irish Americans, in Mardi gras celebrations around the country, or in the Indian festival of lights that is Diwali, now celebrated across many U.S cities. And you see it in how the quintessentially Russian Nutcracker is now an American Christmas tradition. So why should a young Texan's love for the folk songs of his ancestors, and a blending of their cultures, have been cause for such scorn?

 

Sebastien is a seventh grader at Kitty Hawk Middle School in San Antonio. When he is not doing homework, or playing sports, he manages to perform for audiences in town and across the nation, living, for now, the quintessential American dream.

 

We were lucky to have Sebastien perform live at the TPR studios:

http://youtu.be/v5aKOetdc5Y

  

 

Crystal Chavez was Texas Public Radio’s Morning Edition host for three years, until January 2015.