Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Wise Latina

Before Sonia Sotomayor became America's first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, she had to fight her way through the haters. And those haters jumped on a phrase she used in as many as seven speeches from 1994 to 2003 about her unique qualifications as a member of the bench, including this oft-repeated line delivered in 2001: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." The key phrase, of course, being "wise Latina." Critics like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich "tweeted" that Sotomayor was a "Latina woman racist." (He apologized). But for her fans, the phrase became a proud slogan emblazoned on t-shirts, baby bibs, coffee mugs. One Mexican-American state senator sent 200 t-shirts to friends, constituents and fellow politicians that read "Another Wise Latina," telling the New York Times that Sotomayor's slogan evoked the community's "matriarchal culture."