Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Children > Laredo, Texas mayor makes Sotomayor’s confirmation a “teachable moment” for the children of his city

Laredo, Texas mayor makes Sotomayor’s confirmation a “teachable moment” for the children of his city

LatinaLista — One Twitterer that I follow posted the understatement of the day: “Did anything happen today?”

Confirmed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
For millions of Latinos across the country, there was a swelling of collective pride over the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as the first Latina and third woman to join the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 31 negative votes couldn’t even dampen the pride as press releases from various organizations were issued congratulating Judge Sonia Sotomayor. All of them were basically the same — In addition to offering their congratulations, they reiterated her high qualifications for the job.
Of course, the implication is to silence those critics who made accusations that Sotomayor was chosen more for her ethnicity than her qualifications. Yet, Laredo, Texas Mayor Raul Salinas decided he needed to spell out the reason why Sotomayor was chosen — not for the critics but for the children of his city.

Thirty-six percent of Laredo’s population is Hispanic. Twenty-eight percent are under the age of 18. Mayor Salinas knows that Latino children sometimes have difficulty aspiring to greater heights and that role models play an important part in motivating Latino youth to go on to bigger things.
That’s probably the rationale behind Mayor Salinas’ statement today that was clearly directed to the children:

“The nomination of Judge Sotomayor was a moment of great pride for every Hispanic in America. Her confirmation today by the United States Senate is a matter of great pride for all Americans. For the Senate did not confirm her because she was a Latina; rather, the Senate confirmed her because of her steadfast devotion to the law and her work ethic.
I hope all children in Laredo schools understand that it was Judge Sotomayor’s hard work and devotion to the law brought her to President Obama’s attention, not her heritage. There is nothing that will prevent Laredo children from achieving their goals if they work hard and are steadfast in the devotion to the task at hand.”

Yet, as evident by the Republican/conservative opposition towards Sotomayor, her high achievements weren’t sufficient to satisfy her critics. Though she has a record illustrating her moderate rulings, she was continuously attacked on exaggerated charges.
Those attacks sent a wrong message to the Latino community and to the children. As Sen. Menendez told today’s host of the MSNBC Ed Show, even with all of Sotomayor’s outstanding qualifications and lengthy experience, and she was still found to be lacking by conservatives, illustrates to the Latino community that no matter how hard we work and persevere, we’ll never be good enough.
And being good enough is what it’s all about.

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  • cookie
    August 7, 2009 at 8:17 am

    So Latino’s were all swelled up with pride to have a racist, sextist, biased Latino confirmed as a SOJ? There is no denying her words or trying to explain them away. I hope the next time that there is an opening on the bench that a white male or female judge gets nominated and makes the same statements in reverse. I can predict with 100% certainy that the Latino community will go ballistic.

  • irma
    August 7, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Sonia Sotomayor is neither racist nor sexist. She is simply more than competent to perform the duty that she has been given.
    Skin color is just a covering, at the level
    of DNA we are more similar than different. Being Hispanic is cultural, it is not just skin deep. This is what the Republicans failed to understand. But maybe over the
    next 20 years or so, Judge Sotomayor will
    teach America that the interpretation of the
    US Constitution will benefit from having a Latina as its guardian.

  • Traci
    August 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    “Being Hispanic is cultural, it is not just skin deep.”
    Actually, the only thing the population of Hispanics have in common is their language. Filipinos, Spaniards, Cubans and Mexicans are all considered Hispanic, yet they have absolutely nothing in common except their language, and that’s a very weak bond when push comes to shove in social competition.

  • irma
    August 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Traci,
    Spaniards are not Hispanic. They are Europeans just like the French, Germans
    etc. Filipinos are not considered
    Hispanic by the National Institutes
    of Health, so I assume the US government feels the same way. Cubans and Mexicans
    share more than the Spanish language, they share Spanish DNA. The Spanish
    spread their DNA all over Mexico and
    did the same in Cuba. Mexico has a very good relationship with the country of Cuba.
    Mexicans and Cubans do share some cultural traditions but also have their own.
    To say that Hispanic groups have little
    in common is simply wrong.

  • cookie
    August 11, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Irma, you are incorrect. The Spaniards are Hispanic culturally. Hispanic is a culture and it is based partly on the Spanish language. Europe is a continent, not a culture. There are many different cultures on the European continent.
    Yes, the Spaniards did spread their DNA all over the Western Hemisphere. Wherever they spread their DNA a lot of their culture was adopted by those indigenous to those areas. The most common one was their language.

  • Traci
    August 12, 2009 at 11:19 am

    “Mexico has a very good relationship with the country of Cuba.”
    Are we supposed to be impressed with a country that has good relations with Cuba, a country led by a regime that is by all accounts dicatorial and repressive? As far as I’m concerned, that’s just bad judgment. Spain, not Hispanic? It used to be. I guess the definition depends upon the whim of the definer, then, and the time of day.

  • Jose
    August 12, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Hola! Not Hispanic? You mean that I missed the vote? A year in Iraq and they hold a referendum on whether or not Spain is Hispanic and I wasn’t informed! Who failed to notify me and send me an absentee ballot. OMG!

  • Plato
    August 12, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Actually, being Hispanic or Latino has no meaning at all, except in a political context. Some Hispanics don’t even speak Spanish. Some who are called Hispanic don’t even practice the culture. The Japanese and Germans that settled in Latin America call themselves Hispanic, but have absolutely on Spanish DNA. Similarly the descendants of black slaves in Latin America and some parts of the Caribbean call themselves Hispanic, but have no Spanish blood.
    Who is Hispanic? Answer: Anyone who wishes to call himself one. Not really an exclusive or definitively defined group, are they? Those who make the issue of their Hispanicness are more likely using it for political purposes and nothing more.

  • Traci
    August 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Aside from language, can anyone tell me specifically what other things Hispanics from all over the world have in common?

  • irma
    August 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    from Wikipedia
    ‘Usage Note: Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for “Spain,” has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. Latinowhich in Spanish means “Latin” but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericanorefers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. ”
    From all this I deduce, that a Spaniard
    living in the US is a Hispanic. But that
    same Spaniard living in Spain is not?
    The term it seems is used by the United States to confuse everyone.

  • irma
    August 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Do you mean to say that Spaniards are NOT
    Yes, Europe is a continent- I didnt state that it was not . I said Spaniards are Europeans. Mexicans, Cubans, South
    Americans and Central Americans are not Europeans. Spain “used to be” Hispanic? What does that mean?
    The term Hispanic is a terrible term. Someone decided to group Spanish speaking people together – I have no idea why. I presume the idea was that people who come from any of the lands previously occupied by Spain ( Cuba, South America, Central America, and Mexico) speak Spanish and were influenced culturally by the Spanish.
    Why this was not done for all English speaking countries as well – I have no idea. We could then group England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, USA,Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as a “cultural” group and call them “His-english.” Ridiculous huh? So is the term – “Hispanic” in my view.
    Can anyone tell me who coined the term Hispanic?

  • cookie
    August 14, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Irma, you must be misreading my post. Yes, the Spaniards in Europe are Hispanic culturally. They brought their culture and language over here and it was adopted by many whom they mated with. I don’t know where your confusion lies.
    The word “Hispanic” was a catagory started by the U.S. Census so that Spanish speakers or those who consider themself part of the Hispanic culture could choose that catagory as a race if they wanted to. It never really made sense to me as a race catagory because race and culture and can be two different things. Hispanic is a culture, not a race.

  • irma
    August 17, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I agree that term Hispanic should not be
    used as a category for race.
    Interesting isn’t it, that the US government has such a poor command of the English language that they equate race with culture.

  • cookie
    August 18, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Irma, it isn’t about our government having a poor command of the English language. They were trying to identify Spanish speaking Americans in this country probably because they were growing by leaps and bounds so they created a racial catagory for them. But they didn’t do it correctly. The terminology they should have used was “Mestizo or Mullato”. Those are mixed races who usually speak Spanish and they are the ones who make up most of the Spanish speakers in this country. Full blooded Spaniards are white racially. Either way, Hispanic is not a race and they need to correct that on the census.

  • irma
    August 20, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    The term Caucasian race (also Caucasoid, Europid, or Europoid[1]) has been used to denote the general physical type of some or all of the indigenous populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.[2] Historically, the term has been used to describe the entire population of these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone.
    So Cookie , according to Wikipedia,
    the term Caucasian race would include a North African ( eg. Egypt), Horn of
    Africa (Ethiopia), South Asia ( India),
    Centra Asia (China) and West Asia (middle east). Being of the Caucasian race has nothing do with skin color.
    You are right , the US government should stay out of the business of racial classification. The language that a person speaks has nothing to do with
    their race. Mestizo is a term generally used in Latin America that refers to individuals of mixed heritage ( some kind of European and native American).
    This classification fits many if not most
    Latin Americans. It is not however a racial category. Perhaps the US census should ask the following question:
    What country or countries did your
    parents or grandparents originate from ?

  • cookie
    August 20, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Oh, ok Irma there is no such thing as the white race so give me my affirmative action benefits NOW! What race were those people who came over here and had conflicts with the natives? What race was racist against blacks before the Civil Rights Era and no matter what they have done to try to make amends are not allowed to live that down to this day? Maybe you should tell Evelyn the white race hating nutcase in here there is no white race so she will stop beating up on us for eternity.

  • irma
    August 21, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Cookie, if you are female – affirmative action has certainly helped you. I have written about this before. All women in the US ,especially those that are not
    classified by the US government as
    (Hispanic or black) have benefitted from
    affirmative action. If you are disabled or economically disadvantaged – affirmative action is for you as well regardless of gender.
    Most of the people who came to the Americas and had conflicts with the natives were European or Caucasoid if you like.
    But ,most Americans however can’t trace their lineage back more than 2 generations. I suspect most “whites”
    are less Caucasoid than they think.
    There is no white race, there are however plenty of white skin obsessed
    people who think that their skin color defines them racially , culturally and politically. Thinking like this is baffling.

  • cookie
    August 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Irma, as a white female Affirmative Action has never helped me nor would I want it to. I don’t believe in race based or gender based special priviledges anymore. Not in this day and age. It served its purpose at one time but there is no need for it now and in fact is discriminatory.
    Yes, those that came here and had conflicts with the natives were Europeans but that was only their geographic area, not their race. No one is European by race. They were of the white race.
    I can’t believe that you are still continuing to deny that there is a white race. Does that mean there is no black race native indian or Asian race either?
    Sure, many of us are of mixed race nowadays but that doesn’t nullify the fact that there is and always has been a white race just like all the other race classifications. You are really off the wall on this one. Is it because you want to deny our existance because of some sinister agenda? FYI, Obama is half black and half white by race. Of course many want to play down his white half and just refer to him as being black. Skin color really has little to do with it nowadays because of intermixing of races over time. The white, black, asian races, etc. are more about genetics rather than skin color, especially because of the mixing of the races.

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