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Sotomayor's influence: Latinas in the South Bronx follow her lead

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Indeed, Savannah and many other Latinas hope that the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the nation's highest court will finally at least color in the Latina stereotype with the diversity and depth at the heart of Puerto Rican culture.

Savannah, who works consciously to minimize the importance of ethnic or racial identification even as she is proud to be a "Boricua," puts it this way: "When people get introduced they ask, ‘What are you?' And I know what they're asking, but I just try to be funny with it. I say, ‘I'm a girl, what are you?' ... I mean, it's cool a Hispanic was nominated, but why does it have to be such a big thing? Why does it have to be so special?"

"The stereotypes of Latinas as ghetto girls smacking gum, like all stereotypes, cannot possibly portray the richness of our identities and experiences," says Lyn Di Iorio, the author of "Killing Spanish: Literary Essays on Ambivalent US Latino/a Identity" who grew up poor in Puerto Rico and attended Harvard, Stanford, and University of California, Berkeley. "The judge's story is a great one for young Latinas to digest because it does start to spread the idea not just that she is uniquely accomplished ... but that there are others like her coming up."

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