Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Written by Alennys Taveras Seda
“Don’t mistake politeness for lack of strength.”
Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court Justice
The Power of a Hispanic Woman in the Highest Court
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a period for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. In a time where there is so much that appears to divide us as a country, stories like Sonia Sotomayor’s remind us that there is much more at stake than just ourselves. The decisions made by the Supreme Court will impact generations to come. To have a hispanic, low-class woman be one of the movers of society is an inspiration to millions of girls not only in the United States but around the world. She reminds us that our heritage, our ancestry is what gives us power. It’s about taking pride in who you are and working to be the best that you can be.
Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born to Puertorrican parents in The Bronx, New York City. Her father died during her early childhood, and she was raised by a single mother. Sonia graduated Summa Cum Laude from the prestigious Princeton University, and went on to receive her law degree from Yale Law School. She worked as an assistant district attorney before being nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Pres. George H.W. Bush. In 1997, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. With her impressive record, it was only a matter of time before that day in May 2009, when President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. While on the court, she has supported the informal liberal bloc of justices and has been known for supporting the rights of defendants, calling for reform of the criminal justice system, and making impassioned dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity.
Many are not aware that she almost declined the opportunity to be a justice in the Supreme Court. Sonia had doubts that she was not good enough to fulfill the role. It was at this point someone in her life intervened, saying the words that would completely change her perspective. “It’s not about you. This is about all those little girls who will see you.” Every latina and every woman who has ever been doubted by others and even by herself because of her gender or culture can look up to Sonia Sotomayor and say “I can do it.” Mindset is the key to success- there won’t always be an easy way out or a helping hand. With education, perseverance, and support, anything is possible, and Sonia is the best example of that.
It is crucial, not only during this month but during the year, that we remember stories like Sonia’s and all the others who have paved the way for hispanic women to achieve their goals, no matter how ambitious they may seem. The world will try to push us down, to say we aren’t strong enough. It takes our kindness for weakness, not aware that we have the power of thousands of powerful hispanic women supporting us every day.
We will make our mark on the world, just as Sonia Sotomayor is doing right now.