A (Wise) Latina Meets THE Wise Latina



Finally.

I had the opportunity to meet HER.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the original “Wise Latina,” as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar noted, not at “our” Trader Joe’s (despite hours spent “studying” the sugar content of juice labels), but at this week’s White House Forum for American Latino Heritage.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Viviana Hurtado

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Viviana Hurtado

I covered her nomination and confirmation as a correspondent for ABC News.  I was horrified and outraged, not at the intense scrutiny of Sotomayor’s record which is the duty and obligation of Senators, but at the ugly and personal tenor of the debate that at once mocked and ridiculed Sotomayor and by extension, all Americans of Latino heritage.

Then there was the role of the mainstream media, that didn’t hold conservative pundits and Republican politicians accountable for crossing the line of decency in public debate. Remember when Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) pressed Sotomayor on her gun rights views by channeling his inner I-Love-Lucy-Ricky-Ricardo accent, ”You’ll have lots of ‘splainin’ to do”?

Imagine if a Senator had randomly said to an African-American nominee: “Yo, baby.  You have a lot of explainin’ to do.  Word!”

Or to a Jewish-American nominee: “Oy vey!  A shiksa like you has a lot of explaining to do.”

I didn’t get mad.

I started this blog.

I don’t want little Latinas growing up to believe their professional and personal options are straitjacketed by blunt stereotypes.

I don’t want them to feel invisible.

Insignificant.

On the contrary, as part of the ethnic group demographically booming that will soon constitute a large part of the nation’s workforce and determine out economic competitiveness, they have serious skin in this game called America.

I told her this (I have my elevator pitch timed to New York City high rise speed) when I high-heeled my way past the throngs of admirers waiting to take a picture, thank her for “saving baseball” with her 1995 ruling, or autograph a picture.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Viviana Hurtado

A (Wise) Latina Meets THE Wise Latina

Her reaction?

No, “¡Sí of course, Viviana!  I love and read your blog, its Manifesto, Facebook posts, Twitter feed, gripes about the blight next door, and your losing cat and mouse game with DC parking enforcement every day.  I just love what you’re doing!”

No, “Viviana, wanna be my new B-F-F and come over?  I make a killer pot of arroz con gandules.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Viviana Hurtado

A (Wise) Latina and THE Wise Latina Talk It Out

Instead, I got: “Oh.  That’s great.”

No exclamation point.

A few flashbulbs went off.

Next.

She had too many people she wanted to make sure she got face time with, if only for 15 seconds.

Let down?

Heck ya, if you consider how much I lionized this lady.

Inspired?

Heck ya!

Although to be clear, I’m mixed about a month or day devoted to celebrate a person, culture, or event such as Hispanic Heritage Month.  Truth is, the best way to honor your past is to reach for excellence every day, in this way shaping our nation’s present and future.

That’s what Sonia Sotomayor does and reminded me to practice when she closed the day-long event with: ”I am an American with a Latina soul who loves my country fiercely, prizes its history deeply, and proudly proclaims the importance of its interwoven history of Latinos since the founding of this nation.”

Watch Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, beginning at 1:33, courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior:

 If you have met a role model, was that person who you expected her to be?

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4 Responses to “A (Wise) Latina Meets THE Wise Latina”

  1. Elisa says:

    Sonia Sotomayor’s reaction was a letdown, but can I just say what beautiful photos?! Seriously, hold on to those! :)

  2. ”I am an American with a Latina soul who loves my country fiercely, prizes its history deeply, and proudly proclaims the importance of its interwoven history of Latinos since the founding of this nation.”<<<<< Love it!

  3. Bren says:

    ay, chica, you can’t let your lack of affectionate reaction ruin your moment of meeting her or take it personally for that matter… after all, esta super busy (as are you). at least you got a photo op with her and more importantly, you continue to be a voz for us Wise Latinas… besote.

  4. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve met people who I have admired from a far and was completely disappointed by the REAL person. :/

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