12 Sonia Sotomayor Quotes That Will Inspire Latinas To Keep Blazing Throughout 2019

For inspiration on overcoming adversity and creating a meaningful life of love and justice, look no further than Sonia Sotomayor.

The first Latina Supreme Court Justice, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, was born in the Bronx, New York to impoverished Puerto Rican parents. Her father, who battled alcoholism, died when Sotomayor was eight years old, right around the time she was diagnosed with diabetes. Her mother, a telephone operator and nurse, was left to raise her alone, always stressing the importance of education. That insistence helped land Sotomayor in Princeton as well as Yale Law School and eventually shaped her into a barrier-breaking judge who became the third woman and first Latino to sit on the highest court in the land.

On the wise Latina’s 64th birthday, get inspired by some of her most encouraging quotes.

1. “Although I grew up in very modest and challenging circumstances, I consider my life to be immeasurably rich.”

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Wealth isn’t always defined by money but rather by the invaluable people, culture and moments in your life.

2. “I have never, ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive.”

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Even in the darkest tunnel, there is a light guiding you to freedom and greatness.

3. “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.”

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Bam! What she said.

4. “When you come from a background like mine, where you’re entering worlds that are so different than your own, you have to be afraid.”

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Just don’t let that fear stop you from reaching your own destiny and realizing your power.

5. “I realized that people had an unreal image of me, that somehow I was a god on Mount Olympus. I decided that if I were going to make use of my role as a Supreme Court Justice, it would be to inspire people to realize that, first, I was just like them and second, if I could do it, so could they.”

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When your hermana wins, you win, too, ‘cause her gain just helped you getting closer to your own.

6. “To have a romance, you have to have time. I’m a justice. I’ve written a book. The guy’s gonna have to wait until I’m a little bit freer.”

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Prioritize yourself, your vision and your happiness, baby girl.

7. “It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”

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You often have more to learn from your upbringing, and the experiences it dealt you, than from a textbook.

8. “I’m young at heart. I’m young in spirit, and I’m still adventurous.”

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Never stop having fun.

9. “I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.”

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Soar above others’ expectations of you.

10. “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.”

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You are fire.

11. “You know, failure hurts. Any kind of failure stings. If you live in the sting, you will undoubtedly fail. My way of getting past the sting is to say no, ‘I’m just not going to let this get me down.’”

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Fall down seven times and get up eight.

12. “I came to accept during my freshman year that many of the gaps in my knowledge and understanding were simply limits of class and cultural background, not lack of aptitude or application as I’d feared.”

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You are not inherently less than but you have systematically been taught to believe you are — and that is a myth you must debunk for yourself and those around you.

Read: A Shop Owner Complained About Graffiti On The Walls Of Her Store And This Teen Created A Mural On It To Empower Women

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20 Impressive Facts About Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

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20 Impressive Facts About Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

In 2009, Judge Sonia Sotomayor made histor by becoming the first Latina ever to become a member of the Supreme Court. She is also only the third woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. While both facts are interesting on their own, there are many more fascinating details that make up Justice Sotomayor’s life.

Between her parents’ humble beginnings, her years in prestigious colleges and her life as a judge, the Latina from the Bronx has conquered a lot. Still, the Supreme Court Justice acknowledges the power of growth. She aspires to be an imperfect role model for those who live an imperfect lives. That acknowledgment of both her victories and her flaws make her the multifaceted idol that the Latinidad deserves.

Here are 20 amazing facts about the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

1. Sotomayor is a Boricua.

Twitter / @Latina

Justice Sotomayor’s parents were both born in Puerto Rico but moved to the Bronx during World War II. Though they were both from the island, they actually didn’t meet until after they relocated. Her father, Juan, was from San Juan while her mother, Celina, was from the rural area of Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast. Though they were both from the same territory, they otherwise has little in common.

2. The Supreme Court Justice was diagnosed with diabetes as a child.


Growing up in their modest home in the Bronx presented the Sotomayor family with many challenges. One such obstacle is something the Supreme Court Justice still contends with today. At the age of 7, Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. From that day on, the young Latina would have to take daily insulin shots to regulate her blood sugar levels.

3. Her father tragically passed away when she was a girl.


Sotomayor’s father was a non-English speaking laborer with a serious drinking problem. Though he always supported the family, his alcoholism caused tension in the already strained family. Unfortunately, Sotomayor would lose her father when she was 9. Juan Sotomayor died at the age of 42 due to heart disease. His loss would put even more strain on the impoverished household.

4. Her childhood idol came straight of the pages of a very popular bookend series.

The New York Times

Despite the hardship that young Sonia faced, she found a haven in the pages of her favorite works of children’s literature. As a girl, she was inspired by kid detective Nancy Drew and her investigative heroics. Because of her “Nancy Drew” books, Sotomayor wanted to pursue career as a detective. However, after her diabetes diagnosis, her doctors suggested she find another dream.

5. Her dream to become a judge came from a piece of pop culture.

REX / Shutterstock

After her doctors advised against being a detective, the young Sotomayor found a new dream. Instead of from the pages of her favorite books, this one came from the small screen. As a girl, the future Supreme Court Justice was inspired to pursue a legal career after watching “Perry Mason.” By the age of 10, Sotomayor set her sights on going to college to become a lawyer and later becoming a judge.

6. Sotomayor’s mother had high expectations for her children.

My Beloved World / Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor grew up with a mother who was emotionally distant. Perhaps it was the stress of raising two children alone, but Celina Sotomayor was not a warm and doting mother. However, she was fanatically committed to her children’s education. Her mother purchased a complete collection of “Encyclopedia Britannica” for her children’s personal use — a huge expense and luxury for the time. Despite their distance, Justice Sotomayor credits her mother as her life’s inspiration.

7. That focus resulted in a full scholarship to Princeton University.

Princeton Alumni Weekly

Her mother’s strict focus on Sotomayor’s academics paid off. The future Supreme Court Justice was valedictorian of both her grammar school and her high school. This academic excellence would also land her a full scholarship to Princeton University — despite the cultural biases that Sotomayor acknowledged hindered her test scores.

8. The future-Supreme Court Justice had academic trouble in college.

Wagner Faculty / Nassau Herald

Sotomayor’s entrance into Princeton was a culture shock. Her entrance class had few women and only about 20 Latinos total. She has described her time there as being like “a visitor landing in an alien country.” Sotomayor was afraid to ask questions or for much needed help during her first year of college. After receiving low test scores her first semester, the future Supreme Court Justice opened up and sought out help from tutors.

9. Still, she managed to graduate with highest marks.


Despite her rough start, Sotomayor aced her final two years of undergrad. Her senior thesis, “La Historia Ciclica de Puerto Rico,”  won honorable mention for the Latin American Studies Thesis Prize. Her senior year, she won the Pyne Prize — an award for undergraduates recognizing excellence in academics and extracurriculars. She also graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. in History.

10. She was appointed unanimously as a US District Court Judge.

Kiddle Encyclopedia

In the early 1990’s, Sotomayor had proven herself to be a political centrist with a long history of pro bono service work. This, coupled with the support of senators like Ted Kennedy, earned the Latina a nomination to a seat on the US District Court. It was President H. W. Bush who nominated Sotomayor and she would go on to be confirmed unanimously.

11. Sotomayor has taught at some of the most prestigious law schools in the US.

Vanderbilt University / Joe Howell

Besides attending some of the best schools in the nation, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor has also taught at many. From 1998 through 2007, she taught trail and appellate advocacy at New York University School of Law as an adjunct professor. Later in 1999, the future Supreme Court Justice would go on to lecture at Columbia Law School.

12. Republican opposition delayed her Court of Appeals nomination for over a year.

Instagram / @monicamzanetti

In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor for a position on the US Court of Appeals. Since her previous nomination was confirmed so quickly, this one was expected to be the same. However, it quickly became a political stand off. Republicans wanted to block Sotomayor because they saw it as a move by the Clinton Administration to have the first Latino in line for Supreme Court. The delay lasted over a year until she was finally confirmed (67-29).

13. The housing project she grew up in now bares her name.

CBS New York

In honor of all that Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor has accomplished, her childhood community decided to honor her in a big way. In 2010, the Bronxdale Houses — the housing project she was raised in — were named in honor of the newly appointed justice. The NYCHA development is now called the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses.

14. It took just under 5 months for her to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The New York Times

Although it took such a long time to confirm her to the US Court of Appeals, her confirmation to the Supreme Court went more smoothly. In May of 2009, President Barack Obama nominated the Latina for her position on the highest court of America. Liberals celebrated her nomination as a move towards putting leaders with heart on the bench while Conservatives worried about her “Latino bias.” Opponents like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich claimed Sotomayor was “racist” against white people. Still, she was confirmed on a vote of 68-31 less than 5 months later.

15. She has a unique relationship with the New York Yankees.

Twitter / @YESNetwork

Growing up in the Bronx, it’s only natural that Sotomayor is a lifelong New York Yankees fan. Besides regularly attending games, the Supreme Court Justice was able to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Yankees 2009-2010 season. The Yankees had an incredible season, winning the World Series. To thank Justice Sotomayor for the good energy she sent with her first pitch, the Yankees brought their World Series Championship trophy to visit Sotomayor’s Supreme Court chambers.

16. Sotomayor has had some major health scares during her time as Justice.

Twitter / CNNPolitics

Having lived with diabetes since such a young age, Sotomayor has learned what works for her body. Unfortunately, in 2018, the Supreme Court Justice had a scare involving low blood sugar. Paramedics were called and Sotomayor was treated and escorted home. However, after a day of rest, the Latina was back at work. That same year, Justice Sotomayor suffered a broken shoulder because of a fall. She had to undergo a reverse total shoulder replacement surgery. It’s taken some physical therapy, but the judge is back to her usual self.

17. She has weighed in on some of the most substantial Supreme Court cases in US history.

Instagram / @theluzcollective

There are almost too many notable decisions made by Sotomayor in her career as a judge to mention here so let’s focus on her time in the Supreme Court. She ruled with the majority that upheld the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court Justice also sided with the majority in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized marriage equality. Finally, she recently voted against the Trump Administration’s controversial Muslim Ban.

18. She has been a champion of marginalized communities.

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Sotomayor has acknowledged that she is a woman who has benefited from affirmative action. As such, she’s been a vocal champion in favor of affirmative action programs that grant women and minorities a level playing field. In 2014, the court upheld a Michigan case that barred affirmative action programs. In response, Sotomayor wrote a 58 page dissenting response — three times longer than the decision to uphold — explaining that the court’s duty is defend the civil rights of historically marginalized groups.

19. Sotomayor wrote a best selling book about her life.

Instagram / @melannrosenthal

In 2010, Sotomayor signed on to write an autobiography and received an advance of almost $1.2 Million for her words. Titled “My Beloved World,” the book was also published in Spanish and told the story of her life up until her Supreme Court nomination. The memoir was critically acclaimed and spent numerous weeks on the “New York Times” Bestseller List — even debuting at number one.

20. She’s also written a children’s story book.

Instagram / @PenguinKids

Besides inspiring adults with her memoir, Sotomayor wanted to share her story with kids. A reminder that they could achieve their dreams no matter what, “Turning Pages: My Life Story” was published in 2018. Described as thoughtful and sincere, the book was well received by critics and remains a great read — especially for young Latinas who dare to dream.

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Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel


Latina Reads: Puerto Rican Author Lilliam Rivera Discusses Upcoming YA Latinx Feminist Novel

Lilliam Rivera has written two novels featuring strong Latinx female characters including her latest Dealing in Dreams. The Puerto Rican YA author released The Education of Margot Sanchez in 2017, a romantic coming of age story set in South Bronx that explored family dysfunction and the importance of being true to yourself. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, Rivera penned the ode to her hometown after relocating to Los Angeles. The book was nominated for the 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association and Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

In Dealing in Dreams, Rivera takes readers on the kind of fantasy adventure she imagines her teenage self would’ve wanted to read. The feminist dystopic novel is clearly influenced by Latinx culture following the adventures of sixteen-year-old Nalah and her all-girl crew Las Mal Criadas and her dreams of escaping Mega City to the exclusive Mega Towers. Read on to learn about the strong Latinx women in the book, why she chose to portray toxic femininity, and how immigration came into play. The book will be out March 5 and she’ll be talking at bookstores throughout the U.S.

The story focuses on an all-girl crew, can you tell me more about Las Mal Criadas and how you developed these characters?

Nalah is the sixteen-year-old leader of Las Mal Criadas, an all-girl crew who patrol the streets of Mega City. They are notoriously fierce but Nalah is wary of the violent life. She believes the way off the streets is securing a home in the exclusive Mega Towers where her leader Déesse lives. She’ll do anything to reach that goal. I wrote a draft of Dealing In Dreams six years ago and Nalah came to me first. I had just given birth to my second daughter and there were people, mostly women, who remarked how my dream of being a published author would have to be placed on hold. Rage can be a great incentive for generating art. I refuse to be pigeonholed. I wrote this draft while taking care of a newborn and I put it away for six years, workshopping a chapter here and there, until a year ago when I returned to the manuscript and still felt its relevance.

Can you describe Mega City and the Mega Towers and their significance in the story?

@lilliamr / Instagram

I based the concept of the Mega Towers on the housing projects I grew up in the South Bronx. The Twin Park West Housing Projects is a U-shaped structure connected by three buildings. With the Bronx slowly being gentrified I could just imagine how these buildings will soon be so desirable for those in power. In Dealing In Dreams, the towers are the only structure that survived the Big Shake, a man-made disaster caused by drilling. The Mega Towers is where the elite live and it’s where Nalah believes she can secure a home for her crew if she plays by this society’s rules. There are a couple of hints that Mega City is the Bronx but only a person from there would discover those Easter eggs.

The book is being described as a feminist Latinx dystopia and The Outsiders meets Mad Max so suffice it to say it’s a fierce book, how would you describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre? 

I would describe Dealing In Dreams as a young adult book about a girl who grew up in a violent world and must decide if that path is truly her only salvation to a better life.

There is a very clear Latinx influence in the city and characters, why was that important to you?

@lilliamr / Instagram

I grew up reading so many science fiction and fantasy novels (Ray Bradbury, George Orwell…) and didn’t see any of my people in them. Where were the Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx crushing monsters? The same holds true of current films. I love Star Wars and have watched it hundreds of times but how amazing is it that my kids get to see Oscar Isaac being a part of the Star Wars canon? The future I envision in my novels is very brown and very black, just like my upbringing. I want to write Latinx characters that are flawed and heroic, who fall in love and discover their voice.

This is your second time writing a teenage Latinx protagonist, why is it important to you to tell these stories through the lens of a Latina?

These are the type of stories I craved for when I was young, desperately trying to connect with protagonists in novels. I think there’s more than enough room in bookstores and libraries for different Latina stories.

You take toxic masculinity and flip it to women instead, what was your intent in doing this?

There’s this great image of activist Angela Peoples taken during the Women’s March. Angela holds up a sign that reads “Don’t Forget: White Women Voted for Trump.” I thought of that image when I was rewriting the novel. I also kept thinking of how our own people will gladly throw us under the bus in order to secure a place beside someone in power. Sometimes our own family are quick to lead us to destruction. I wanted to explore those two realities in Dealing In Dreams.

What are some of the main concepts you wanted to tackle when you wrote this book and why?

I was thinking of books I’ve read that inspired me as a young person such as Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I was drawn to their violence and also to the idea of formed families. I wanted to explore this idea of blood family versus the family you create but I wanted to come from the point of view of a Latina.

The idea of finding a better home is a concept that’s all too real for many Latinx in the US, was it a conscious decision to have Nalah’s journey mirror the immigrant experience in a sense?

@lilliamr / Instagram

The quest for home is so rooted in my family’s history. My parents left Puerto Rico to find a better home in New York. Each decision they made, however hard, was made with the intention of providing us with the tools to succeed. Almost everyone who wants to enter the United States come with that hope. There’s an amazing painting by the artist Judithe Hernández titled “La Muerte De Los Inocentes” and it is of a child who clutches a ribbon that states: “We come but to dream.” I feel that painting really captures Nalah’s journey and the journey of so many who come to the U.S. searching for a better life.

There’s a lot of action in this book, what was it like writing those scenes featuring all women?

I had the best time writing those scenes! I think it’s so rare to see young women owning their strength on the page and not being afraid to use it. I love that my characters are unapologetic about it. I also didn’t want to give the reader a chance to rest, to think of putting the book down, so I tried to inject as much action as I could.

What do you want readers to take away from Dealing in Dreams?

I want readers to be transported to a place that looks at times familiar and completely new. I want Nalah, Truck, Nena and the rest of Las Mal Criadas to leave an imprint on the readers long after they read the last page.

Read: YA Writer Tehlor Kay Mejia’s Debut Fantasy Book is a Feminist Story of Forbidden Love and Oppression

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