Honestly, when most people speak of The Bronx, NY, they imagine a poor and decaying New York City borough of "Fort Apache, The Bronx" fame that they manage to never step foot in. When pressed, these critics might admit to some better aspects of the borough such as the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Zoo, Wave Hill, Pelham Bay Park, Riverdale, Bronx High School of Science, Woodlawn Cemetery, Arthur Avenue shops, City Island seafood, Fordham University, Yankee Stadium, etc. They might even give you a point or two for Jennifer Lopez (Jenny from the Block), who grew up in the Castle Hill section of The Bronx.
My own family moved to the U.S. and The Bronx in the late 70s, at a time when New York City was going through major financial problems and witnessing some very dark days (sound familiar?). But what does a kid know? I saw everything with rose-colored glasses and was too busy trying to come up with change for another pack of baseball cards or a hot slice of pizza. The truth is it's not as bad as people make it out to be, but there's still much work to be done in the borough.
Earlier this week on Tuesday, President Obama took a step in the right direction by nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York, who was born and raised in the South Bronx, to the Supreme Court. It was an important moment for many Americans as Ms. Sotomayor now has the opportunity to become our country's very first Hispanic justice. What an incredible journey, to have traveled all the way from a public housing project in the South Bronx to the doorway of the Supreme Court. And suddenly for a moment, my own oddball memories all came rushing back to me...classes at C.S. 47 and I.S. 193, Ruben, Sammy, Sean, Blair, Eileen, Barbara, early morning handball, Mrs. Brady's typing class, breakdancing culture, West Farms, St. Lawrence Ave., Parkchester, cross country races at Van Cortlandt Park, bootleg Top Gun and Wrestlemania VHS tapes, and laughing and joking all the way home on the uptown 4 train with Ruthledge and Anthony. Good people and good memories, and I am beginning to hope that good things do indeed come to the good people of this world.
As President Obama remarked in nominating Judge Sotomayor: "Well Sonia, what you've shown in your life is that it doesn't matter where you come from, what you look like, or what challenges life throws your way - no dream is beyond reach in the United States of America."
"And when Sonia Sotomayor ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the highest court of the land, America will have taken another important step towards realizing the ideal that is etched above its entrance: Equal justice under the law."