Sotomayor and the Possibilities for Justice

May 26, 2009

By now we're all familiar with the news that President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. I've spent most of the day struggling to provide some original and thought-provoking analysis about the decision, and instead find myself wanting to default to other articles that voice the analysis better and more articulately. There are the articles that remind us of Sotomayor's qualifications and background, both which would make her a wonderful Supreme Court Justice. There are the articles that remind us of the significance of the nomination and why it matters that Sotomayor would be the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. There are the posts that expose the racist and sexist language that has already emerged as a result of the nomination. And there are the articles that emphasize the political strategy behind Obama's selection, speculating how the right will oppose the nomination without alienating Latinos or splitting the Republican party.

So after reading all those articles I guess all that I have to say is, I'm happy and hopeful. Sotomayor's nomination is a reminder of why it's important to have qualified people of color in positions of power, because they help other qualified people of color move through the pipeline. Sotomayor's nomination is also symbolic: at a time where Latinos continue to be the victims of race based hate crimes and are disproportionately affected by everything from healthcare to pollution, Sotomayor is a reminder that there are possibilities for justice.

I look at the photos of Sotomayor shaking hands with President Obama and think of her mother crying in the front row, and I tear up a little too. I'm sad that my best friend wasn't alive to see this progress and that I couldn't call her to talk to her about feeling simulatenously hopeful and cautious of what is to come. And I'm overwhelmed because Sotomayor looks more like my mom and my friends and their aunts and sisters than any of the other Super Court Justices. Beginning tomorrow I'll be prepared to tackle the criticism and political debate surrounding the nomination but today I just want to feel like maybe we'll finally get to a place where the words Equal Justice under Law don't sound like a joke.

Nina Jacinto is a freelance blogger living in the Bay Area whose writing focuses on issues of race, gender, and media representation. She's a graduate of Pomona College and loves South Asian diaspora narratives, bargain shopping, and the Internet.