When I first began to go over this assignment and reviewed the three associated key words, I decided that I wanted to take a closer look at just exactly each one meant. What does it truly mean to experience or witness bias, prejudice, and/or oppression? Take a closer look at how one of our main text books defines these words (all definitions are exact quotes – appropriate citation can be found at the bottom of this page and on the right hand side of the picture):
Ok, so now we know exactly what bias, prejudice, and oppression mean. We have explored how all three of these occur within the world and have begun to observe how they have entered into our own personal and professional lives. However, I took a step back and asked myself when have I personally experienced the effects of one of these terms or when have I witnessed it? While several different examples came to my mind, I knew that I wanted something different and unique. I wanted to represent an marginalized group that doesn’t necessarily come to mind as quickly as others. Sure, I can chose an example of racism or even LGBT-ism, however both of those terms have come to be very familiar in today’s society. So, what other example could I give that showcases bias, prejudice, and/or oppression that has a different story? Just as I was pondering this, I received an email from a dear friend and within seconds I knew exactly how my story was to be told …
The Time that Mexican Kid, err, wait, he’s American?
Meet Sebastien De La Cruz:
He is an 11 year old mariachi singer who is a native from San Antonio, Texas. His singing talent landed him a spot on “American’s Got Talent” last season. His adorable mariachi outfit represents his style of singing, to which he says:
(Photo courtesy of http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/sebastien%20de%20la%20cruz).
However, his story begins after he was asked last minute to sing the National Anthem at a NBA Finals game in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. This kid has a powerful voice – take a minute to listen:
So, this 11-year-old boy does a fantastic job of showcasing one of his (many) talents. Yet, he was meant with some pretty nasty prejudice remarks that were plastered all over Twitter, simply because they based their information without accurate proof: they thought he was a Mexican singing the National Anthem for America. When, in fact, Sebastien was born and raised in America! Here are just some of the prejudice remarks that were sent towards Sebastien’s way:
(All Twitter photos courtesy of: http://www.upworthy.com/some-racist-bullies-picked-a-fight-with-an-11-year-old-kid-and-lost-in-glorious-patriotic-splendor?c=upw1)
So, you might think that this prejudiced act would cause some pretty harmful effects for Sebastien. After all, isn’t that what prejudice, bias, and oppression lead to? Negative implications for the individual? Listen to this wise and mature response Sebastien gave in regards to all these negative remarks, an example of how to take a prejudice act and turn it into an opportunity:
That Really Isn’t Fair Because …
Hearing Sebastien’s story made me stop to think about how equality truly hasn’t been reached in America yet. It certainly seems fair for a white, “American-looking” kid to sing the National Anthem without so much of batting an eye. I bet if Justin Timerlake sang the National Anthem at 11 at the NBA Finals game, everyone would have praised him, rather than criticized. So, why is this different for Sebastien? He has a powerful voice, just like Justin. He has every right to sing at an event that he was invited to. So it seems unfair that he would have to face such cruelty simply because people believed he was a different nationality. This is where equality has yet to be reached … children and adults are being judged on nationality, ethnicity, race, or other defining characteristics, which leads to different type of treatment depending upon what identity that child or adult is. In my opinion, equality doesn’t judge nor criticize based on nationality … rather it affords the same treatment to everyone, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, and so on.
I believe that equality also hasn’t been reached because people use incorrect information to judge people and then go public with it. I find this absurd that the social media website, Twitter, allowed such hateful remarks against this boy that were all based on false information.(On a side note, all Twitter accounts who hosted those prejudice remarks have since been shut down or banned.) Would this treatment also be allowed if hateful remarks were posted about a significant public figure based on false information? Probably not, but then again we can never be too sure of the social media and its powerful influence. I do believe, however, that equality was not achieved in just how far those comments based on negative information got. Wouldn’t have equality stepped in and provided just treatment to Sebastien until accurate information was provided? All in all, Sebastien was served a big helping of inequality simply based on his presumed nationality.
Why I Oughta …
Reading through articles and seeing pictures of Sebastien stirred a lot of feelings for me. Initially, I was ashamed of the way that my home country responded to one of our own citizens. How can we as a society respond in such a negative way and cling to false information so quickly without seeking accurate truth? Had we taken the time to recognize that this boy was American, just like the others casting their prejudice remarks, I bet that they would have said something completely different. Shame on America for pinning prejudice remarks on one of their own citizens. Shame on America for only looking skin deep and immediately stereotype and become prejudice. Perhaps our country has a long way to go towards equality … as it appears we are a country with a dominant culture and if you don’t even “look” the part, then suddenly you are lesser than the rest of us. Shame on American for this poor response to Sebastien and his singing of the National Anthem?
In addition, I also felt sadness for the boy who had to endure so much at such a young age. He should have received more praise than shameful remarks for his outstanding singing. He had to bear the brunt of our society’s prejudice attitude when all he was doing was what he was asked to do at the last minute. However, this hint of sadness was replaced quickly with a sense of pride, as I heard Sebastien’s remarks to the media. “People don’t know, they just assume …I’m from San Antonio, born and raised” (Mordeci, 2013). This heartfelt response was genuine and respectful towards a group of people that honestly don’t deserve that. An 11-year old boy stood up to American and showed that that their racist, prejudice remarks wouldn’t hold him down. He’s proud of his country and his father, who defended our country. Sebastien, you made me proud and have shown me what a citizen of the United States should act like.
What is there to change …
Honestly, in order for this incident to turn into an opportunity for greater equity, those within America that hold that racism and prejudice attitude would have to change their thoughts, actions, and behaviors. In order to us to stop automatically assuming who people on just on the surface and then pinning negative stereotypes to them, it’s almost as if we have to re-record those messages with more positive, equal ones. As Americans (and even people in general worldwide), we need to stop judging based on surface culture and inaccurate information. Before we assumed, we should ensure that our facts are correct before attaching our prejudice remarks. If we, as Americans, truly began to uphold this, then I believe that we can move closer towards greater equality.
To read more about Sebastien’s story, you can click here.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Edwards, J. O. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Mordecai, A. (2013). Some racist bullies picked a fight with an 11-year-old kid and lost in glorious patriotic splendor. Retrieved from http://www.upworthy.com/some-racist-bullies-picked-a-fight-with-an-11-year-old-kid-and-lost-in-glorious-patriotic-splendor?c=upw1