This morning I received a call from an old friend. I saw her caller ID , picked it up and heard her smile as she said, "Happy Wise Latina Day!".
It reminded me of a conversation with a young Latina lawyer who I had some wine with on Tuesday night.
Both my friends have often served as reliable barometers for what middle class professional Latinas are thinking. Like most of their group, they came directly from the proud Latino working class. Like their moms and mine, being a successful Latina, whether that is defined as being a professional or producing a generation prepared to fulfill their dreams, is more than necessary: it is almost a sacred duty. Their path is apparently not easy. There's my mom, working herself into America after growing up on a ranch in Mexico's northern region; my friends' moms, establishing their first generation family firmly into the American middle class; and their own personal journeys -- being the first to graduate college and to devote their lives, in one case as a professional public servant, the other as a promising new attorney. Their journey is treacherous and difficult and was one that necessitated a determination and sense of self that one would have to call "wisdom." So while the story of Sonia Sotomayor has been told as if it is unique and special the power of her biography is that in many ways it is neither. Sonia Sotomayor is representative of Latinas more often than not.
If my barometer friends are giving me a good reading (and they always have) the GOP is in for a rough go of it. The men of our community would have never made the mistake made by Sessions, Graham, Hutchinson et al of disparaging the words of a symbol of a sorority that makes up a very public , very open, and yet a very private and almost secret society: Latinas. While people found it easy to question the wisdom of Sotomayor's words nobody in our community found it even necessary to mention that the GOP proved that they did not posses the wisdom to choose theirs more carefully. The irony was best enjoyed quietly; besides, the inside joke became funnier and funnier.
But the fun and games are over and so here it comes: GOP, let me warn you, your affront to Sotomayor is seen as an affront to all Latinas and will not be forgotten easily. This will stick. You are now officially doomed. Senator Hutchinson or other Sotomayor detractors in heavily Latino areas should cross the aisle and find out how important and effective Latinas can be on the campaign trail. Better idea: take a Latina out for lunch, but be prepared to hear wisdom.
As far as the men in our community, most of us are also insulted. The wisdom the GOP disparaged has nurtured us, inspires us, and intrigues us. Most of us Latinos cringed for the GOP when they engaged in this battle which we knew they would lose, and will continue to lose. We wish the GOP "good luck" knowing they will need much more. Hmm, perhaps some wisdom ... I have a couple of friends they can talk to.
Mario Solis-Marich can be heard on Am760 in Denver and at www.GotoMario.com Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 7 PM MT.