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Sotomayor a racist? Hardly, South Bronx says

But growing up in a 'minority-majority' neighborhood does shape one's view of the world, residents say.

This undated handout photo provided by the White House shows Sonia Sotomayor visiting students at her alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School in New York.

White House/AP/FILE

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As Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor makes the rounds meeting key senators on Capitol Hill this week, the South Bronx where she was raised and much of the city she still calls home are rippling with pride – orgullo, in Spanish.

At the same time, people here along Bruckner Boulevard bristle at the attacks against Judge Sotomayor by conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who have called her a racist. While each has toned down his criticism in the past day, many in this multicultural and predominantly Democratic borough believe the attacks themselves show a lack of understanding about how growing up in a "minority-majority" neighborhood shapes one's view of the world.

At the Caribe Fruits and Vegetables market on Westchester Avenue, where guavas and plantains sit next to a cooler full of Coke, Luis Irizarry calls Sotomayor "one of the best."

"We Puerto Ricans are very proud," says the retired postal worker, who came from Puerto Rico 35 years ago. "She grew up right here. What she's going to do for the Latin people is going to be a big surprise: Latin people will feel differently about themselves because she's on the court."

At the community center of the Bronxdale Houses, the project where Sotomayor grew up, college junior Derrick Hewley of Dominican and African-American descent puts it this way:


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