Our Beloved World: A Bronx Latina Attends Sotomayor Book Signing

Last Wednesday I could not stop telling everyone who would listen that I was going to listen to Sonia Sotomayor speak at El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan. It was going to be so cool.

And then I got the flu.

I asked my mother if she would like to go. “No,” she said flatly. “But Tía Yohanny is in town.”

And that’s how Ana García-Ashley, the National Executive Director of Gamaliel, found herself listening to Sonia Sotomayor give marriage advice one Saturday afternoon in New York City.

My aunt has worked for Gamaliel, an organization committed to developing grassroots activism in communities through local faith-based groups ever since I can remember.

Ana Garcia-Ashley, courtesy: Gamaliel, and Sonia Sotomayor, courtesy: Elena Seibert

Here are a few of her insights on Sonia Sotomayor’s talk, from the perspective of an activist, a Latina, and a South Bronx kid.

  • “The good thing about it was that there were a lot of young people there, and it was totally packed,” Ana noted. “There’s a lot of pride with her being Puerto Rican and the first Latina on the Supreme Court. There was a lot of clapping. She switched back and forth from English to Spanish, which kept people engaged.”
  • Sonia Sotomayor “pretty much said everything that was in the book; the [audience] asked...about her father, about her mother. She’s very passionate about law.”
  • The one thing that really stood out was a discussion of fear: “When she first became a Supreme Court Justice she was scared. But [when a colleague] asked her a question, she jumped right into it.”
  • Ana identified with talk of the slew of shut-down Catholic elementary schools: “It makes a difference to poor kids."
  • Sonia Sotomayor recommends that couples salsa dance everyday. It keeps the relationship happy and healthy. “This coming from a divorced woman!,” Ana laughed. “It’s good advice.”
  • After the talk, Ana went to see a photography exhibit by young South Bronx, mostly Puerto Rican artists: “From vacant lots to people hanging out of the windows in the buildings,” the pictures mirrored the Bronx that she and Sonia Sotomayor shared.

She finishes our chat with the quiet wisdom that comes with experience—the sort that sings throughout Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography.

“[Barack Obama] has a lot of power,” she says. “Sonia Sotomayor won’t be the last. He will get to appoint more people to the Supreme Court.”

She speaks steadily about a future that makes me so anxious that I sit perfectly straight as we talk.

Maybe that’s just what confidence means: facing the future head-on.

Ana and Sonia Sotomayor have it in bounds.


The Wise Latina Club's Dulce-Marie Flecha is a rising senior at Penn State. When she is not writing her honors thesis, she is trying to learn a fourth language, feeding her fashion obsession by Googling her favorite designers’, or begging the Yankees to hit with runners in scoring position. Click here to read more about and connect with Dulce-Marie.

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