It’s quite an honor to call a Latina ‘Your Honor’

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Your honor, from one “wise Latina” to another, I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of what you’ve accomplished.

Everywhere I go, I can’t stop talking about you. I can’t stop saying, “Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court!” I just love the sound of that. Yes, yes, I’ve heard a lot of people say you are a “token” Justice; that you were nominated out of political correctness because you are a “double whammy:” female AND an ethnic minority.

Será? The punditry said the same thing of ex-Governor Sarah Palin when she was running for VP: “double whammy” female AND conservative Republican— others added to the list of attributes that she was a working mom, “sexy” and muy guapa, too.

You know, the media … remember when cable news couldn’t stop covering your fashion-faux pas? The repeat red power suit? Or was it the blue one? They did the same thing to then-Senator Hillary Clinton with the pant suits, qué malos, verdad?

I’m glad we can now shift the attention from your failed “wise Latina” joke to the important work that awaits you.

I must confess that I’m glad you clarified what you meant by that now infamous wise Latina remark. It goes to prove that we must always be vigilant of what we say, someone can be recording our words and they can always come back to haunt us.

I remember being uneasy about that joke and uncomfortable at the same time. What did you mean to say, really? That Latina women have rich experiences because……….? What’s the assumption here? As my mom would say: “If Latinas are soooo wise, why is it that they keep dropping out from school at higher rates than their white non-Hispanic counterparts, or continue to have unprotected sex and alarming number of unintended pregnancies?” Not very wise, verdad?

Ah! Generalities. They are dangerous and sometimes evil. I’ve been guilty of that too… Then there’s the problem with “Latina” as a universal category. Which Latina are you talking about? A privileged Latina? An underprivileged Latina? What makes her experience so rich? I’m sure you’ll chronicle this and more when you write your memoirs.

But I digress. Let me tell you, I’ve gotten over the failed joke. I envy you and love you all at the same. Truth is, Sonia, you and I have two things in common, at least. First, I’m a thinker, too. My viejo Alberto is always saying, “Your mind works in mysterious ways.” Between us, Justice Sotomayor, he doesn’t know the half of it.

La otra cosa, Sonia, is that we both look good in black. Good thing, since we’re not as svelte as we once were.

Seriously, I salute you for your historic appointment. Your confirmation is bittersweet: a big deal but a painful reminder, too. It reminds me that you are just the first Latina and the third woman to serve in this capacity.

Let’s just hope one day we are all represented at all levels; when that happens, the appointment of women, Latinos, Blacks and other minorities to very important positions within our government and society will become a non-issue. I’m all for that.

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