I’m sick of the constant harping on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s ‘Wise Latina’ comment. Jeff Sessions, the Senator from the great state of Alabama (‘everybody knows about Alabama’ -Nina Simone) made reference to it again in his opening/opposing statement at Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings today.
The sentence, for those of you who haven’t been following the obsession, goes like this:
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.
For those who have always enjoyed the privilege of assuming they could be the best at something it seems odd to say that you might actually be better at it than another group – that fact is taken for granted. For instance, nobody is questioning my ability as a man to be a good lawyer, a good judge, a good voter, a good landowner, a good bank account holder – because it was presumed by society that I would be good at those things by the very nature of my gender.
Not so for a women.
There was a time when for a women to make the case that she should be allowed to be a lawyer, judge, voter, landowner, bank account holder (let alone claim she might be a good one) was extraordinary, as all of these things were forbidden to women. So at a conference encouraging women it would not surprise one to hear a woman say that she might even be better at these things than a man because she is forced to compensate for an entire society that has legally and normatively insisted that she is not only not equal – she is inferior.
I, for one, am not intimidated or threatened by her comments. I do not believe that
Judge Sotomayor’s is a racist. She is proud of the abilities and wisdom that she and other Latina women are offering to the bench. She is qualified and I welcome her confirmation.