Racist or Not! We haven’t played this game in a while at The Black Snob but there was an interesting moment during Sonia Sotomayor’s hearing in the senate when a Republican senator made a reference to television’s most famous Cuban-American during questioning.
Here’s how the exchange went down according to Time Magazine:
In the middle of an exchange (with Senator Tom Coburn) about gun control, Sotomayor tried to illustrate the reach of New York State gun laws by joking about running home to get a gun in self-defense. “If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend …”
“You’ll have lots of ‘splainin’ to do,” Coburn interrupted, invoking a phrase familiar to fans of the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, in which Lucy’s long-suffering husband, Ricky Ricardo (Cuban American Desi Arnaz in real life), would often utter the refrain in exasperation at his zany wife’s antics. Sotomayor paused awkwardly before nervously agreeing with a chuckle, “I’d be in a lot of trouble then.”
And here’s the reaction from some Latinos:
“It was insensitive,” says Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat who chairs the Hispanic Caucus Civil Rights Task Force. “It probably demonstrates where the Republican Party is today. They just don’t get it. This is a serious issue for many members of the Latino community. Growing up you’re very conscious of the mispronunciation of words. Sometimes it was also a subject of humor, but I think Dr. Coburn doesn’t understand the stereotyping he was engaging in.” (Read “Just What is a ‘Wise Latina,’ Anyway?”)
Lillian Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Federation, an organization that builds Latino institutions in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said she understood the remark was meant in jest, “but you’ve got to be very careful in those kinds of characterizations. It sends a message that that’s the way you see us: in a time capsule of a 1950’s sitcom. We’ve progressed a long way since then.”
Your verdict? Racially insensitive or just a joke? Racist or not?