Opinion: The problem with ‘Maria’? The Supreme Court nominee’s real name is Sonia Sotomayor.


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Former Republican president hopeful Mick Huckabee (remember him?) promptly denounced President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. [Update: Yes, he’s really Mike. We were wondering if you’d notice and get the joke.] As his website said early today:

The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama’s campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric.


That inspired this observation from Latina magazine:

One huge problem there, Mike! Her name isn’t Maria. Contrary to popular belief, every Latina in the United States isn’t named Maria. We’ll forgive you. We’re sure you were just watching “West Side Story” last night in preparation for this statement and got confused.

The name has since been fixed on the website for “HuckPAC. Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness.” (They got that one right.) And speaking of confusion, it’s time to discuss Sonia Sotomayor’s “immigrant parents.”

That phrase has appeared in the media now and then, if not in news reports, then in comments submitted by readers. Wrong again. Ivan Roman, executive director of the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists today issued a friendly reminder to the media.

To be factually correct, her Puerto Rican parents are not immigrants, as some journalists have reported, since island-born residents are U.S. citizens conferred by an act of Congress in 1917. People who move to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico are no more immigrants than those who move from Nebraska to New York.

And just to show that the media get criticized for just about everything, someone objected to Sotomayor being described as Puerto Rican. The term has been used in Spanish, as well as English, media. In Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Dia newspaper even referred to her as a ‘boricua,’ an affectionate term for ‘puertorriqueno.’ (And, yes, if we had a tilde and accent marks, we’d use them.) This all prompted a comment from “LSPLASH” on a message board hosted by El Nuevo Dia. The writer called the appointment beautiful, one to inspire pride, but added (in our translation):

If one isn’t born in Puerto Rico, then one isn’t Puerto Rican....Someone from California with Puerto Rican parents continues to be CALIFORNIAN. Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Sonia Sotomayor...are “NEW YORKERS”—or better known as “newyoricans.”


-- Steve Padilla

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