Marc Anthony, Twitter and the Cost of Ignorance

Stop RacismIgnorance has such a negative connotation, but it’s an underlying symptom of what’s wrong with how perceptions are formed. When I learned about Grammy-Winner Marc Anthony being vilified as unAmerican for singing “God Bless America” at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, I was shocked.  The incident follows a similar situation when 11-year-old Sebastian de la Cruz sang the National Anthem at Game 3 of the NBA Finals wearing a Mariachi outfit sparking racist remarks on Twitter. Why?

If you’re Latino and you sing any type of American anthem or patriotic song at a sporting event, is it a prerequisite to wear your birth certificate on your sleeve?

Both singers are American citizens. Anthony was born in Spanish Harlem in New York City, and Cruz was born in San Antonio, Texas. And yet, judgment was given to each before knowing the facts. Why? Is it because the word “Latino” falls before the “American” part?

Considering the vast amount of information we have access to today, I’m amazed by how prevalent some individuals choose to remain ignorant.  Or, maybe it’s by accident? Whether ignorance is purposeful or accidental, it is unacceptable.

Racism today is based on ignorance. There is no other way for me to rationalize the response towards Anthony or Cruz. I’m trying to understand what triggered this type of response and it is difficult to accept this type of behavior. The only conclusion I can make is these racial remarks are rooted by the lack of understanding of different perspectives, ways of life or belief systems. If not this, then it’s pure hatred.

It’s an unfortunate reality. As a society, we need to be able to voice our differences and help others understand differences between cultures. Close-mindedness is the enemy of progress.

So many people live in ignorance because they don’t take the time to understand the facts or cultural differences. If you’re tweeting, then you have access to a variety of information online that describes different cultures.

Knowledge is the antidote for ignorance and there is no excuse for it. None.

So let’s clear the air a bit about Latinos… we are Americans too.

I say “we” on purpose because I’m Latino; Mexican-American to be more precise.  My maternal grandfather fought in World War II. There is a memorial a mile or two away from where my grandmother lives. My grandfather helped secure the freedoms I take advantage of each and every day; the same freedoms that every American citizen enjoys.

We are part of the backbone of this country. We have been a part of the U.S. prior to its manifest destiny policy. Post-manifest destiny, a large percentage of this country was Mexico; a fact that is often unmentioned when discussing Mexican-American history. It’s a fundamental reason why a large percentage of Mexicans currently reside on this side of the border.

But Latinos are not defined by Mexico either. “Latino” applies to any culture or people from Central or South America, and I promise, we are all culturally different. I dare anyone to insist to a Cuban that s/he is Mexican. Or, tell a Puerto Rican that s/he is Cuban.

Marc Anthony is a member of the second largest Latino group in the U.S. He has no cultural connection to Mexico other than the label, “Latino.”  But even if Anthony was of Mexican descent, does that make him ineligible to sing “God Bless America”? If this country is the land of the free, then is it not the right of anyone to sing it regardless of their cultural background or nationality?

And so what if a kid elects to sing the National Anthem wearing a mariachi outfit. Cruz showed more patriotism than all the individuals who chose to tweet racist remarks.

Between these two incidents coupled with other recent events including Paula Deen and Trayvon Martin, the United States has a fair amount of soul searching to do. This nation is multicultural, and no amount of bigoted tweets will change this fact.

It’s time to fight ignorance.

Photo Source: DeviantArt 

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