The Changing Face of America

Chili dogs and cheese nachos, sports jerseys and, well, sports.  It’s game night, and nothing says America like game night.  Despite our differences and warring team loyalties, united we rise, eyes fixed on the flag with hands over hearts. O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

San Antonio native and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Sebastien De La Cruz, 11, sang the (U.S.) National Anthem at a Heat vs. Spurs game last week Tuesday, opening an All-American event with an All-American tradition.

Oozing cuteness and talent he nailed the anthem, but apparently he wasn’t American enough for some. And why not? Well, Sebastien did it in a mariachi suit. And that seemingly innocent action spurred hateful comments all over social media. Go ahead and take a look.

But here’s the thing: shocking as they are they aren’t as surprising as we might wish.  I have an idea how this kid must feel. This type of ignorance and bigotry isn’t a sad chapter tucked away in our past.  Fellow Americans ask me all the time what part of Asia I’m from. Newsflash: I’m from Louisiana.

Come on people!  Is this seriously the face of America that we want to show the public? Given that the names on the hater tweets look like they came right off the rolls at Ellis Island (read: European immigrants), I would hope that we Americans could have a greater appreciation for all the different kinds of people who make up what we think of as All-American.

America, Photo credit Brandi Korte via Flickr Creative Commons

Not the only face of America.

Even for those who won’t, the fact is it’s going to be pretty obvious soon enough. The Population Reference Bureau reported in 2012: “The U.S. population is currently projected to reach ‘majority-minority’ status (the point at which less than half of the population is non-Hispanic white) in 2042.”  Though fertility rates “have fallen since 1990 among all major racial/ethnic groups,” Hispanic birth rates are currently highest in the U.S., and Asian-American births are catching up with non-Hispanic black and white births.

I like to think that the face of America is a face of many colors, customs, and costumes, but there’s a good chance that the “golden voiced” Mexican-American, U.S. Navy man’s son from San Antonio might become the new face of America one day.  And while birth rates do affect demographics, there’s more to being American than belonging to the majority.  Those who take advantage of this country’s resources to build it up with their labor and sacrifices honorably and humbly wear the face of America.

Despite the insults, Sebastien stands firm as a proud descendant of immigrants and will continue to sing and honor his beloved country that his predecessors helped to build up.

And as it turns out, courage is an All-American tradition, too.

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