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Justice Sotomayor

While the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic associate justice of the supreme court is a laudable achievement in light of our history, the fact that the media and the nation are making such a big deal about it means that we still have a ways to go in terms of how we think about race.

It is said that in thirty or forty more years, everyone will be part of a minority, but until then, it’s interesting to note that when ethnic labels are used to describe people, it’s usually in relation to groups from which the labelers wish to remain distinct.

When was the last time you heard the term, “English-American,” or “Dutch-American?” I don’t know if Chief Justice Rehnquist was the first American of Scandinavian extraction to hold his position, but I can’t recall anybody bringing it up at the time.

The very term “Hispanic,” a Nixon-era moniker, was concocted so that government could isolate a certain group from the rest of us for separate treatment.

Such a label—whether for good or ill--entrenches racist thinking within all groups. Moreover, it’s inaccurate. A Puerto Rican has about as much in common with a Peruvian as my grandmother—a Polish immigrant--had with the descendents of the Mayflower pilgrims. Nevertheless, various groups would label them Hispanic and Anglo, respectively, in a misbegotten attempt to categorize them according to ethnic origin.

If we can’t get it right, why not just drop it altogether? Would that it were that simple.

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In 1962 when I became an American Citizen that is all that counted. I resent when someone calls me a Cuban-American. I am an American that happened to have been born in Cuba.


kudos to Maria! Immigrants complain of being treated differently, and yet they aren't Americans, they whatever-american. Enough Already!I say go home and be whatever-whatever!

You hit it right on the head ,Chan! Can't we all just be Americans?

I agree with your opinion Chan. I also think that it is impossible to have it both ways. Many people are in minority groups sometimes with the "whatever"-American in the title but still put up a hue and cry when the are treated differently. In other words, you can't proclaim your minority background when you profit from it but then cry foul when you are treated as being different. It's called "working the system". If you desire to be treated the same as others then act the same.

thank you! thank you! someone's finally got it right. I was just discussing this with some friends the other day. I am so tired of the "first woman this", "first man that", "first black this", "first hispanic that" etc... if the media would stop pinning labels then maybe...just maybe...we can start stepping in the right direction to just "equal" and not "separate but equal".

In South Florida I am a minority.

I'm a White, heterosexual, english speaking, employed, male born in America.

What line do I stand in for my handouts?

Finally someone expresses the fundamental hypocracy with social group identification like 'hispanic' or 'female' - "we wanted to be treated like the majority - so - give us special treatment and identification". Chan hits the nail on the head - Bravo!

I notice when the hyphenated term is used, it is usually by the group in question, or by the media making a big deal about it. Maybe if the media would lay off of it, it would not get so much air time. We spend so much time 'celebrating' ethinicity etc (Black History month, Hispanic History month, etc) that seemingly everything has to be tied back to that definition. Just be American, that by itself is pretty good, right?

I believe the hyphenation is used to deny some their rights as a full fledged American and/or to marginalize. The full potential of this country will never be fully realized until there are only two kinds of Americans,... those who are and those who want to be one. Let's get rid of the hypernated lebels once and for all. I am originally from a country made up of various ethnic groups, yet there are no hyphenated countrymen among us. This is truly a beautiful testament to this country's motto, "Out of many, one people."

Let's just replace the other eight Supremes with La Raza.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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