'A culture of hate'; Tucson reacts to racist backlash following boy's NBA performance
By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jun 12, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It was a flood of racist slurs, hate-filled speech and bigoted backlash, all aimed at an 11 year-old boy.
Meet Sebastien De La Cruz, a small boy with a huge gift.
But within minutes of his powerhouse performance at last night's NBA finals game in San Antonio, brutal backlash over how he looked, what he wore, almost silenced that gift.
Vicious attacks flooded the social media stratosphere, calling this 11 year-old an "illegal" who probably just "snuck in the country."
And those are ones clean enough to read.
"It's very distressing. We're all from somewhere else," said one Tucson man.
"I'm 11 too and I don't think it's really fair," said a girl, we spoke to.
"I find it pretty amazing that they're picking on a kid," said one woman.
But it's not so shocking to everyone.
"There's been a culture of hate that's been building," said community activist César López.
He argues this is just the latest example of that culture.
Remember 'Racist, White Arizona Girls'?
These teens went on a hate-filled rant last year in support of Arizona's SB 1070.
"Illegals! God! They're so nasty and raunchy!" said one girl.
Then there's the at last fall's Republican National Convention, when a Puerto Rican speaker was heckled off stage.
The girls later apologized, and RNC organizers attributed their flub to an ill-timed controversy over electoral votes.
Still, López says instances like those and like this latest one leave a scar.
"Attacking a culture immigrant or mexican or any other type of migrant really also attacks the rest of the culture and rest of the social fabric that's barely clinging on in this country," he said.
And it's a wound that one wise little boy is working to heal.
"I'm just proud to be a mariachi singer and it's their opinion actually," said Sebastien. "It's not my fault. It's what I love."
For as much backlash as he's getting, Sebastien is getting even more back-up.
He says many of the NBA players, from the Spurs and the Heat, told him he did a great job.
Sebastian is no stranger to the spotlight.
He competed on America's Got Talent.