For better or worse, the term “Wise Latina” entered our vernacular during Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings earlier this summer.
The phrase — originally uttered by Sotomayor to inspire other Latinas — was taken out of context and turned into something that could be easily mocked. Now, Latina magazine and its editor-in-chief Mimi Valdes-Ryan want to take back “Wise Latina.”
Valdes-Ryan came up with the idea for the magazine’s Wise Latina t-shirts after Latina‘s creative director Florian Bachleda voiced outrage over the use of term during the confirmation hearings, she told FishbowlNY recently. When she proposed the idea of commemorative shirts, her staff clapped and cheered.
“We just wanted to make sure that that phrase was not looked upon negatively,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that our audience could take it and feel empowered by it.”
“Judge Sotomayor’s story is so inspiring,” Valdes-Ryan continued, “Especially because she comes from the projects in the Bronx. I come from the Chelsea projects in Manhattan. When you’re living in that environment, you think all the things that she has accomplished are just make believe. You don’t think it’s really possible. Her story was so inspiring, all of us here really wanted to do this t shirt because we wanted to remind our readers to just dream and be all they can be, as corny as that sounds.”
The shirts are black with hot pink lettering that mimics Latina‘s logo. They can be purchased on Latina‘s Web site and they’re featured on the back cover of the September issue, available nationwide August 18. A portion of their sales are going to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, a charter school in Sotomayor’s home borough founded last year by the nonprofit group 100 Hispanic Women.
The t-shirt is brilliant marketing because it incorporates the magazine’s name and logo, but Latina is not the only one producing “Wise Latina” shirts. “I want people to buy our shirts because a portion is going to charity,” Valdes-Ryan said. “I also think that from a design standpoint, ours is the most fashionable.”
Here’s a video Latina produced to promote the shirts, featuring Valdes-Ryan: