Wise. Latina. Woman.

We made a wonderful discovery when we realized that diverse experiences do lead to diverse perspectives. While some are aghast at Sonia Sotomayor’s expressed 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,” others perceive a refreshing, reverberating tone. If it is wisdom we are looking for, then let’s call on the richly varied experiences of all those around us. The sorry absence of so many voices has beyond doubt impoverished our vision. Remember that until recently it was assumed that the best candidate for any well paying job was always a white male. In truth we have come a long way! Now let us focus on inclusion, rather than exclusion.

Ms. Sotomayor rightly recalls the beneficent forces that propelled her forward. Yet few wise Latinas have been so fortunate. For most the doors have not been opened wide. There are fissures, cracks in the windows, the slow dismantling of patriarchal prejudices as we search for new forms, like the ancient gathering trees of Guernica, Spain offering shade and room for all. Native peoples attest to the wisdom of age and the wisdom of diverse opinions through wisdom councils of the elderly and wisdom circles wherein everyone is listened to and the accumulative wisdom fills the center and points the way. We need Arthurian round tables to bring in the silenced and unheard, and deference to those who up till now have spoken little.

Still, some tables are built for nine. Who than shall be seated? Whose experience will help us understand the degradation of poverty? Whose stories will tell us what war feels like? Whose history will reveal how bitter the taste of discrimination, how limited the horizon circumscribed by a millennia of belittling? And who will give us hope and speak to the resilience we need? Today we call forth the many wise ones we’ve relegated to the kitchens and laundry rooms, fields and back alleys, back staircases, back, back, back behind white privilege. The core of our work in Adelante Mujeres could be described as giving voice lessons. Education, Empowerment, Enterprise – varieties of voice lessons to allow a new music to ring forth.

Thanks so very much for joining us in this endeavor.