You’re asked to nominate someone for TIME’s Person of the Year. Who would it be, and why?
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I would like to nominate a young San Antonio boy for person of the year. I realize this is a little odd but bear with me and let me explain. The person I want to nominate is eleven-year-old Sebastien de la Cruz of San Antonio, Texas. He is a mariachi singer who appeared on America’s Got Talent and was one of the top ten finalists.
On Tuesday night, young Sebastien was the last-minute singer of the national anthem at the Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. The singer who was scheduled to perform could not make it and at the last minute, Sebastien was asked to perform. He was dressed in his mariachi costume and performed a beautiful a cappella rendition of the national anthem. All of San Antonio was extremely proud of him.
However, Twitter was lit up with horribly vicious racist remarks about Sebastien’s performance. One remark asked how we could have a Mexican sing the American national anthem. Another said, “9 to 10, this kid is illegal.” There were similar racist comments on Twitter.
On the next morning’s television news shows in San Antonio, Sebastien appeared and addressed this Twitter comments with poise beyond his years. He had heard and seen the comments and wanted to respond to them. He said that people had a right to their opinion, but he wanted to set the record straight. He was born and raised in San Antonio. He is Mexican-American, but he is American and loves the United States. He was proud to be chosen to sing the national anthem. He will be competing in a national mariachi competition in New York City next month and his dream is to sing at the Super Bowl and in the World Series.
I am extremely proud of this young man and all he has accomplished in his short life. He handled his distractors with the poise of someone far beyond his years. For these reasons, I nominate Sebastien de la Cruz for Person of the Year.