A List in Honor of Sotomayor's Nomination

By now we've all heard the statement made by Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, that has been criticized by some politicians and journalists.

Sotomayor said:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

Although Sotomayor's critics say that her remark raises concerns about her judicial temperament (some have even called her racist), by all accounts her record reveals that she's been a fair and impartial judge.

Sotomayor's statement was part of a written presentation titled "A Latina Judge's Voice" that Sotomayor gave in 2001 at a lecture at the UC Berkeley School of Law. The remark has caused a mini-controversy for her nomination and prompted the NYT to publish an article asking whether identity politics is stylish once again.

Since I've been alive, racial identification has been exploited for political purposes; it's the reason we enacted civil rights legislation.

But that doesn't mean cultural and racial identification are bad.

Take the arts. I'm thankful that in the arts (generally-speaking) one's identity is not considered a handicap or something to play down. After all, an artist's sexual, cultural, and racial identity is crucial to her artistic voice. Many of the best writers explore the meaning of their identity or culture. What kind of literature would we have if one's life experiences or cultural practices were left out? Would the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and its influence on poetry have ever happened?

I think that reading the literature of a specific cultural group, of say, "writers from New York with Puerto Rican roots," may be a good way to broaden one's perspective about that culture, to teach tolerance, and to combat ignorance. So, in honor of the positive effects of cultural identification, here's a list of American writers with Puerto Rican roots (please feel free to add more writers that fit the description) :

Willie Perdomo
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Martin Espada
Miguel Algarin
Sandra Maria Estevez
Piri Thomas
William Carlos Williams
Pedro Pietri
Miguel Pinero

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