Racists Wig Out About “God Bless America”

Photo of Marc Anthony

Image courtesy Flickr user Globovisión

Last week wasn’t a good week for America and race. This couldn’t get any more obvious as racists across the country wigged out (again!) about some Latino-looking folks singing at a nationally-televised sporting event. This time it was the MLB All-Star game, when Marc Anthony dared to sing “God Bless America” despite being 1) American and 2) really good at signing.

Last month it was the NBA Finals, when Sebastien De La Cruz sang the national anthem twice in San Antonio. Clearly the first time was to just rile up the racists and the second was just a basic eff-you from the Spurs organization, who rallied around the young singer. One response, which De La Cruz opted for, is to show the haters exactly how American you are: America hasn’t had a good track record in recent years with immigrants, especially those of the browner type, and it’s a little questionable how much the “I’m really American!” card can go. So I’m not surprised that some folks totally freaked out when someone coded as a “foreigner” sings “American” songs. Apparently, neither was Spurs coach Grep Popovich:

Well, I would like to say that I would be shocked or surprised by the comments, but given the fact that there’s still a significant element of bigotry and racism in our nation, I’m not surprised. It still plagues us, obviously. And what I was surprised by was how proud these idiots were of their ignorance, by printing their names next to their comments. [emphasis added]

I mean, my dad bought his first American flag after 9/11, partially to show the neighbors how down with America he was. This is a tendency I’m familiar and can empathize with. I just think it’s a crappy response. If someone comes at you questioning your sense of citizenship, not just in the “have the papers sense” but also too in the “what the hell are you doing here” sense too, I’d rather not have to show you my commitment to a flag (even if they are pretty effective at spreading empire!). Playing into the “I’m American too!” game dodges the real issue of why the hell should it matter anyway? That’s why I loved that De La Cruz doubled down on being Mexican and American:

“Mexico is in my heart. I feel it. Even though I’m from San Antonio I still have a big feeling for Mexico. That’s why I go for the Chivas and not for the America,” de la Cruz joked, referencing two rival Mexican soccer clubs. “[I wear the charro outfit] because it shows my culture, it’s a part of my life. It’s a part of me, actually. When I see somebody wearing a traje and it’s missing a gala [or] you see a gala hanging off, I actually think that it’s kind of disrespectful to the Mariachi.

That’s also why I have repost this glorious rant from big-time Marc Anthony fan and Bay Area activist Beatriz Herrera. I swear I was going to write an article with all these points too, but at the end of the day, you can’t speak on a topic any better than a fan can. And that’s what Picked Last is about, getting fan perspectives out there:

Ok ok ok so lots of bigots were hating on Marc Anthony (my boo) for singing God Bless America at the MLB All-Star game, saying he’s Mexican, he’s not a citizen, etc. This is my response:

  1. FIRST OF ALL, don’t act like you didn’t like his voice idiotas…
  2. SECOND OF ALL, singing a colonizer song like “God Bless America” is wack. He shouldn’t have sang it in the first place but since he did I’ll continue to #3
  3. He’s not Mexican, he’s Puerto Rican, DUH, look at him. But even if he were Mexican —>
  4. he’d STILL have a right to sing the freaking song, even though he shouldn’t have sung it in the first place because (see #2)
  5. He’s not just a citizen because he’s Puerto Rican, he’s a citizen because he’s a New Yorker. HOWEVER, arguing that he’s a citizen reinforces immigration status hierarchy, as though only those with legal status deserve respect and would have the right to sing a corny song like that.
  6. Although citizens, Puerto Ricans have always been treated as second class citizens, and have experienced poverty and discrimination similar to other Latino/communities of color.
  7. I ♥ Marc Antony 4EVA because he reps New York and Puerto Rico so so hard and when I listen to him, I think of my mother and my sister and singing his songs on the radio in Mami’s kitchen

SEE YOU ALL AT THE ORACLE ARENA SEPTEMBER 27 😀

That sports is a place for enforcing nationalism is old news, but new and noxious examples pop with some regularity. What’s interesting about this whole episode isn’t just that the internet is a bad place, but that people walk into sports with all kinds of expectations. Some fans seem to mind rooting for brown, immigrant, or foreign-national players but when someone steps out of these prescribed roles and dares to be American instead of just being in America then the haterade comes right out.

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