July 16, 2009

Exhibit A on how the GOP is hanging themselves out to dry with their blatant racism during the Sotomayor hearings. Rick Sanchez talks to his mom, and four other "wise Latina women" as he puts it, and asks them how they feel about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

WHITFIELD: Rick Sanchez, you're wondering, where is he? Well, he decided to go back home to Miami to find some wise Latina women. There he is, Rick Sanchez.

And I know, in the forefront of the wise Latina women, su madre. In fat you even slept at her home last night, right?

SANCHEZ: That's the way it works. You have to come back sometime.

You know, it's funny. Now she spends most of her time, my mom, asking me not about me or anything else other than just my kids. I guess that's the role of a grandmother.

WHITFIELD: You have taken the back seat to the kids.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes, pretty much so.

You know, it's interesting that we would try and stretch our coverage, because we have heard a lot from pundits, and we have certainly heard a lot from legal analysts, and we've heard a lot of politicians and newscasters, and they all have something to say that's very much an important part of this story about Sonia Sotomayor and her candidacy, her nomination for the Supreme Court of the United States.

It's historic, but we haven't maybe spent as much time as we possibly could going around the country and getting a perspective from other people, from regular people who live other there, and especially the people who have now become part of this nomenclature, this wise Latina woman.

So I wanted to do was to come to south Florida and find four wise Latina women, women who have been former federal prosecutors, women who have gone to Ivy League schools, who fought the fight and made it and are extremely successful.

And I think I found them. And I am going to sit down and tell you what they have to say about what it is like, their perspective. It is really unique, all right, Fredericka? You probably know a little bit about this.

For example, what it's like to be a female federal prosecutor, and with all that that brings, and still you walk into a courtroom, as they tell me, and guess what, a lot of people say, oh, you must be the court reporter, or are you the attorney's wife?

That's the reality of the legal system, which they tell me is still very male-dominated. And that's an important point.

But before we even get started with them, I decided to talk to the wisest of the Latina women, as you mentioned, my mama. Usually, Mom and I don't talk politics. Dad and I talk politics, my brothers and I talk politics, but usually, Mom and I don't talk politics. We talk about the kids and other stuff.

Well, I asked her about Sonia Sotomayor, and I found out that my mother, like many Hispanic-Americans, has a lot to say about this. Take a listen.


SANCHEZ: So you like Sotomayor?


SANCHEZ: Are you proud?


SANCHEZ: You are proud.

Proud because someone like you is in this position.

FERNANDEZ: (Speaking in Spanish)

SANCHEZ: Because -- oh, you are proud because she came from nowhere like you?

And you are proud and you like the fact that she did it on her own, nobody gave it to her.

FERNANDEZ: (Speaking in Spanish)

SANCHEZ: She did it on her own.


SANCHEZ: Here is what is interesting about this as we look at it, that there are different perspectives on this story around the country.

Look, some people who may live in South Dakota or North Dakota or Kansas or Minnesota, where I went to school, Golden Gophers, ra, ra, ra, may have a different perspective than people that live in cities like Miami that are already enculturated (ph) by Hispanics to a large degree, or New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or Phoenix or so many of these other places.

So it is important to note that the words she used, while they have upset a lot of people, taking it in or out of context, these four distinguished former prosecutors, defense attorneys, entrepreneurs, say they got her and they knew what she was saying.

They go on to say, or seem to imply that because of who she is and how hard the row has been to hoe for her, that maybe she needs to be given a little room on this.

In fact, take a listen to what they have to say about being a female in a male-dominated legal world.


ELVIRA SALAZAR, HOST, "MARIA ELVIRA LIVE": Latina women for many people that are watching you are maids. That's why I don't like the name Maria, because every single maid is Mexican and is called Maria.

That's why I like Elvira, because that way I get distinguished. I get respected. Maria means being a maid, so Sonia is trying to say, I am not a maid. I studied, I went to law school.

SANCHEZ: So does anybody else feel that way? Do you fight those stereotypes?

SYLVIA TINERA-VASQUEZ, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: I disagree with the sense that a name attaches to a -- I understand where you are coming from -- to maybe a maid.

Are there stereotypes? Absolutely. We are all living in a man's world. As far as lawyers are concerned, maybe we are 2 percent of the population at the stage we're at. I go to meetings, and it's me and maybe another woman. Everybody else is a man.

And we have to battle whatever inequities in whatever in perceptions men and other Anglo women have of us.


SANCHEZ: In the end, though, we are still left with a couple of issues here, having not so much to do with her record, Sonia Sotomayor's record, but comments that she has made and a specific ruling that she made, the Ricci decision, about New Haven Connecticut firefighters, which is certainly an issue that a lot of people -- has given a lot of people pause all over the country.

And then, of course, her comments about a wise Latina women perhaps being better.

I asked these ladies about that. In fact, I was very stern with them. I grilled them. I said, wait a minute. She made some declarations and said some things that maybe will upset some people.

And they say, no. They are convinced that this thing to a certain degree was taken out of context, and all she was trying to do was actually inspire these women when she made the comment.

WHITFIELD: And so on that comment though about life experiences, because that's what we were talking about, as she was talking about her life experiences certainly give her a certain advantage over some people when it comes down to making certain decisions.

But these women that you spoke with, including your mom, did they agree with that or did they take issue with that?

SANCHEZ: No. As a matter of fact, the point they make isn't only that Sonia Sotomayor is qualified to be the next Supreme Court justice. They tell me she is necessary.

She says, the idea that the United States of America would have a Supreme Court when the Hispanic population of the United States is getting to the point where it's growing by leaps and bounds and is about to become something like a third, and there is not represented on the Supreme Court, tells you that someone with that perspective, as long as they are qualified when you look at their record, actually needs to be there to fill that gap that nobody else has been filling.

That's their conviction for, include my mom, five wise Latina women.

WHITFIELD: I am so glad you included your mother.

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