Online rants hit sour note for 11-year-old Mexican folk singer
Racist comments crushed by boy's supporters after anthem rendition
A rendition of the US anthem sung at a basketball game by an 11-year-old Mariachi singer sparked a racism-tinged online response that was quickly crushed by the boy's supporters.
Sebastien de la Cruz - known as "El Charro de Oro," or the boy with the golden voice in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas - was invited to sing The Star Spangled Banner at one of seven National Basketball Association championship games.
Although Sebastien hit every note of the notoriously tricky song as the San Antonio Spurs prepared to take on the Miami Heat on Tuesday, some internet users apparently were offended by his ethnic appearance.
A Tumblr site, called "Public Shaming" captured some of the ugliest comments, prompting a mass outpouring of support for de la Cruz that embarrassed some offenders into shuttering their Twitter accounts.
Some said after the fact that they had had a change of heart.
"I am sorry for the racist comment I recently posted … Due to the comments, I have changed my views," wrote bdub597, who goes by THE_GREAT_WHITE. He had written: "Can't believe they had the nerve to have a beaner sing the national anthem of AMERICA."
San Antonio is 63 per cent Hispanic, but that did not prevent others from expressing outrage that a "Mexican" or "illegal alien" was singing "our" anthem.
De la Cruz, who had previously been a finalist on the America's Got Talent reality show, and is the son of a US Navy veteran, thanked his supporters and dismissed his online critics.
"I don't really care about what y'all say, and I am doing this right now," he said as he brushed his shoulders with his hands - a gesture meant to show indifference or disdain.
"To be honest, it's just the people and how they were raised. My father and my mother told me that you should never judge people by how they look. You should judge them on the inside."
The Spurs responded by inviting him back to sing yesterday.