By Gregory Moore
It’s a phrase that you will be hearing over the weekend from the Hispanic community and it is one that the African American community can relate to.
“¡Al Fin!” means “at last” and it is very appropriate for an ethnic group that is still making strides on the social level of this country.
What they are cheering about is not the fact that President Barak Obama is president but the fact that he, as a minority who made history, has appointed another minority and she is making history.
Yesterday the U.S. Senate confirmed the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a junior justice and for the millions of Hispanics in this country (and the millions more around the world), the overwhelming response has been “¡Al Fin!”.
Justice Sotomayor’s presence on the highest court of the land does more than just make history; it now shows that in some regards, this country is about equality. However there is a vast segment of the population that fails to understand the significance of this selection to an ethnic group that has been as much of a second-class citizen over the history of this country as African Americans have.
When you look at the accomplishments of both ethnic groups, you see that this country’s successes and its failures, have rode on the backs of both groups.
Yet for all the success that these two groups have had in this country and for this country, there has been a backlash of interest groups who believe that any social gains from either group puts another group at peril; namely that of Caucasians. And while the vast majority in this country believe that we are getting past the color of skin and ethnic origin, a small yet powerful group are hanging on to whatever belief structure they have and will stop at anything to halt a nomination like that of Sotomayor’s.
That main group of denial is the Republican Party; basically the old goats that don’t want to let go of their power.
There has been a conscious effort to dehumanize the nomination.
Mudslinging has come from all sides.
And while there have been commentary upon commentary about whether Judge Sotomayor is a liberal activist on the bench or racist, what has been the constant drum that has had a steady beat was that she was more qualified than any current justice sitting, including the current chief justice.
So with a compelling life story, a history of being fair and ruling by what has been laid down by the very court that she will sit on, and a large populous is in the streets rejoicing upon a social success.
It is a success that is well deserved and should be celebrated.
Forget the pettiness of partisan politics for the time being because what is done is done.
For the first time in this country there is a Hispanic sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States and that person isn’t a token pick.
She’s qualified for the job and she is a proven jurist.
For the millions of Latinos and Latinas out there that thought this day would not come, they are rejoicing in the streets.
Yes at last history has been made.
And like that eventful day back on January 20th of this year, the world is taking note as to how this country is defining and shaping itself for the next generations to come.
Hispanics are celebrating today and that is a good thing for all of us.
Soon we may see the first Asian justice on the court.
Maybe the first Native American too.
But for now another precedent has been set so that we can get to that next level of achievement in this country.
So while we work as a nation to improve the diversity and equality of all citizens, let’s take today and celebrate with our Hispanic friends and neighbors on this historic moment.
So I tilt my glass in this celebration of this great event and say to my Hispanic friends, “¡Por fin! Otro hito de este gran país!”