In the midst of a pro-health care rally outside of President Barack Obama's Phoenix town hall, among the many signs calling for health care reform one sign was just a little bit different than the others. That sign, the one that caught my eye, wasn't fancy or particularly clever. It simply said 'I Am A Wise Latina Woman for Health Care Reform!'
Turns out that woman knows a hot trend when she sees one. The phrase 'wise Latina woman,' made famous during Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer's confirmation hearings, is turning out to be the phrase de jour. According to an article written by Laura Wides-Munoz for the Associated Press, anything with 'Wise Latina Woman' on it, is selling like hotcakes (although that's one commodity that hasn't been cornered -- hear that, entrepreneurs?). T shirts, note cards, women's undies, even dog jerseys -- if it has that phrase, it's selling well on Cafe Press, an interesting commercial website that acts as an informal and unscientific social barometer (want a shirt/bumper sticker/button that tells the world which politician you love, which one you hate, which opinion you support, which one makes you sick? You'll probably find it on Cafe Press).
A quick search for 'wise Latina woman' on the site brought up many items besides the ubiquitous t shirts, including buttons, barbecue aprons, water bottles, and mugs. For the men there's a 'My wife is a Wise Latina' shirt, and for the little ones there's a 'Wise Latina' organic toddler shirt. Some show the face of the new Supreme Court Justice, some have a flag accompanying the phrase, and one shirt has the image of a judge's gavel with the words 'Wise Latina Women Rule.' In a quote for the AP article, Amy Maniatis, the vice president of Cafe Press, acknowledged the site's unofficial role as cultural barometer and said she's seen this kind of thing before, but added, "This is the first time we've seen an outpouring of support for a Supreme Court justice." Another online merchant, Zazzle, also carries a variety of merchandise with variations of the phrase, including an 'I heart Latino Women' tie, and a 'My Mother is a Wise Latino Woman' bumper sticker.
The popularity of the phrase was first noted in an article written by Mireya Novarro for the New York Times earlier this month. Novarro noted how many women claimed the phrase with pride, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the barrage of critical comments about the remark made by Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee. One state senator from San Antonio had t-shirts made the minute she heard the phrase and sent them to friends and relatives. In both articles, women who purchased items with the phrase spoke of the pride they felt in hearing it; an expert in race relations interviewed for the New York Times article compared the 'Wise Latina Woman' phrase to a "fist in the air."
In the AP photo taken by Matt York you can't see the face of the person holding the 'Wise Latina Woman for Health Care Reform' sign at the Phoenix rally. But it doesn't take much imagination to picture her as proud, and determined; determined to make her voice heard with a simple home made sign to counter the ones portraying Obama as Hitler.
Wise Latina Woman for Health Care, whoever you are, I salute you.