I’ve been meaning to write a post for the longest time but gosh darn it, life just gets busier and never seems to give you a break. Well, the academic year has just ended so I’m given a few days to breathe before diving straight into my summer plans. While reading through Google Reader, I came across a post on the Angry Asian Man website that just left me…well speechless:
Though I haven’t actually read the article, the term “Wise Latina” probably refers to a controverisal statement Judge Sonia Sotomayor made in 2001: “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.” And in depicting the image of “The Wise Latina”, National Review has decided to use the image of the Buddha. So my question is, why the Buddha?
Somehow, I just can’t get away from thinking about this in racial terms. Maybe it’s because I found this on the Angry Asian Man website or she was deliberately referring to her ethnic background in using the word “Latina” in her speech. But I do think its important. So why did they portray her as Asian? Why couldn’t they find a Hispanic/Latino icon that also resembled wisdom? I get that they are trying to show her as wise, but there are plenty of historical / religous / national Hispanic leaders that also convey a wise demeanor that is probably more fitting to the character of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. One that immediately comes to mind is _(insert answer here)._
Can you fill in that blank? I tried and I can’t. Is it because there aren’t any wise Hispanic figures out there? I highly doubt it. I am probably like the average American who doesn’t have any particular knowledge of Hispanic American culture and is only exposed to it if it appears on television on MTV or Tony Mencia. I’m in no way looking down upon Hispanic American culture but rather, I’m trying to make the point that as part of American mainstream media, the magazine editors chose to compare Judge Sotomayor to a religious leader from India rather than an actual Hispanic leader resembling wisdom, because not many people are familiar with prominent Hispanic figures (which in a full circle, is a result of underrepresentation of minorities in American mainstream media). Rather than risk a comparison few would understand, they use the Buddha, an icon many people are familiar with even if it appears as a rather odd comparison.
After all, what do Judge Sotomayor and the Buddha have in common? The Buddha is by no means a “judge” and Sotomayor by no means a “buddha”. So when it comes down to what the comparison is based on, it seems to be based on the characteristic described by the word “wise”. And that’s it. So if that’s all they have in common, than using the Buddha, which in this case is more of a product of mass culture than any reference to Buddhism, instead of finding a closer comparison is convenient and lazy.