Telemundo releases the full transcript of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's interview in which she discusses her new memoir, 'My Beloved World' with Maria Celeste Arraras. Check it out below!
FEMALE 1: Oh, whenever? Okay, wonderful. Thanks for talking to us, Justice Sotomayor; it's an honor.
Sonia Sotomayor: I'm delighted to be here.
FEMALE 1: And what we first wanna ask you is, Latinos always see you as an inspiration. And yet, I've always wondered, when you look out and you see a sea of young Latinos, especially, do you see yourself in them? And is this part of what you're trying to do with this book, is show so many Latino-Americans that in a lot of ways, your life is very similar to the lives many of us have lived?
Sonia Sotomayor: That's exactly it. Thank you so much for reading my book and understanding its message. I -- when I was nominated to the Supreme Court, in my nomination speech, I said one line that has continued to resonate with me. Which is, "I am an ordinary person who's been blessed with extraordinary experiences." When people look at me on television, especially young Latinos -- I know this 'cause they tell me -- they make me an icon. I'm sort of this almost mystical picture out there, and I know that many of them are very excited, and they think of me as a role model and a hero. But I don't know that when the times get tough for them, that that image on television is really going to give them strength. And so that's why I wrote this book. I wrote a book that I hoped anyone who read it, young or old Latino, would identify with me as a person.
FEMALE 1: Is that why, Justice Sotomayor, you delved into things that can be very painful? You delved into your father's death; there's that passage where you talk about when you found out that he was the one taking you around when you were colicky. And then you dealt with your cousin and his drug addiction and his death. And many people will be able to relate to many aspects of your life, because we've all been touched by -- whether it's illness, or family instances.
Sonia Sotomayor: I think every reader of any background is gonna find a similar experience, emotion, or feeling to the ones I describe in this book. I wanted people to see themselves. And to see that, in the same way that I had hope, they can, too. No matter what the challenges are that life brings you. One of the things I wanted to write about and be honest about was my own insecurities. My own fears. 'Cause you see, so many people try to hide those things, not just from others, but often from themselves. I tell kids all the time, "the greatest thing you have to fear, is fear. Is your being afraid of trying something new and failing." 'Cause failure is painful. But it's a great way to learn how to avoid making a mistake a second time. And so, you have to swallow that fear, and you have to take chances.
FEMALE 1: You had a -- you talk about, too -- some things you talked about were external: illnesses of members of your families, deaths. In your case, going to an elite Ivy League school and having to deal with that, was very powerful, as well as your struggle with diabetes, and how you've been able to conquer that. Of those two things, which was the hardest to write?
Sonia Sotomayor: You use -- oh, to write. I start the book with my first step of living with my diabetes. And I started there because it is a part of me. And I don't -- and I didn't think -- and I know this from friends who have read the book, who tell me that they didn't really appreciate how much it's interwoven into who I am. And so, in many ways, admitting that, publicly, may have been the hardest thing. The other things, like talking about the challenges that I faced in new environments like Princeton, an Ivy League school where kids have backgrounds so different from my own, going to an elite law school like Yale, being in the DA's office, and private practice, a judge on three courts. Even being a supreme court justice. They all present moments both of insecurity and moments of great fear and anxiety. They're hard, and it's hard to write about any time you feel that way.
FEMALE 1: We're at a point in our demographics, in our nation, where there are so many young Latinos coming of age, going to college, being the first ones in their family to go to college. Do you hope that those Latinos -- like you say, old or young, but especially these young Latinos that read your book -- can take sort of that strength to see that, you know, you can overcome some of these issues?
Sonia Sotomayor: That's why I was honest in this book. I tried so hard to be direct, candid, and as honest as I humanly could be. Because I hope that for anyone who faces a moment of challenge, that they'll remember something I might have said that helped me. And that that something will help them. You can't inspire unless people know your heart. That's how I felt, and that's how I feel. And I hope that when people come away and finish this book, that they will feel that they learned something about me that they didn't know. And that they can take some positive message that will help them in their own lives. If I succeeded in doing that, then writing this book was worth it.
FEMALE 1: You have such an intellect, and you're known for your intellect, yet I'm curious to know what you learned about yourself writing this book.
Sonia Sotomayor: I learned so much, and the experience was so positive, that I encourage every person who has living parents, grandparents, relatives, to go and take an oral history about them. Go back and listen to your parents and grandparent's stories. And don't do it the way you did it as a kid, with half an ear. They told a story so many times that you stopped listening. I think that's natural. But when they're telling their story, ask a simple question I never asked as a child, which was, "why?" Why were things like that? Why did you do this? What had happened before this? And I took the opportunity of this book to learn about my family. To find a father I never knew, and to learn about a love affair between my father and my mother that I never knew. What a treasure that's been. I come away loving my father, in a way I could not, because of his alcoholism, have experienced when he was alive. And appreciating my mother even more than I thought.
FEMALE 1: So in a way, writing a memoir is getting strength from the vicissitudes that you experienced as a child.
Sonia Sotomayor: Absolutely. But it also taught me about all of the things that I have to be grateful for in life. It made me appreciate how many contributions I've received from so many people. And it actually let me think about, "how is that I learn? How do I things, and why? What am I about? Who is this Sonia?" And I wanted to hold on to that. One of the prices of fame that many people don't appreciate is, a) you lose your anonymity, and now that I've written this book, I've probably done worse to that. But you lose your anonymity, and with that, sometimes your ability just to be a watcher in the world. I used to love to walk the streets and just watch people. And not have them notice me watching them. You see people doing the most uncanny things. Some of them really touching, and others somewhat perplexing. But you learn by watching people, and I've lost my ability to do that a little bit. I describe it to kids by saying, "I can no longer sit in the back of a classroom. 'Cause I'm always on stage now. And there's a difference in being an observer in the back of the classroom and being the person in the front." And I think they get it.
FEMALE 1: You know, you've opened up so much, and so, you were an icon to many Latinos; you'll even be more after they read this book. Is there a little pressure involved in that sometimes? Not to be able to just let loose?
Sonia Sotomayor: Oh, gosh, yes. As I'm sure many of my friends have told you -- and I do describe it in the book -- I work really, really hard, and I party really, really hard, but I have to be a little more quiet in partying now.
FEMALE 1: Although we all know you love salsa.
Sonia Sotomayor: I do love salsa. I've been caught on film doing salsa, as you know. The night of my induction, my family came from Puerto Rico and from across the country, and friends came from everywhere. And I had about a hundred people in a Chinese restaurant in DC. And after it, the young people in my family, my young cousins, looked at me and said, "Titi, let's go to a karaoke bar." I don't know what gave them the idea. So they dragged me across the street to a sort of very small -- I don't wanna malign it, but it was a hole-in-the-wall karaoke bar. And as my mom and I are leaving for the evening, they're playing "We Are Family," and the kids dragged us both up on the stage. And somebody took a telephone video of it...
FEMALE 1: It's wonderful.
Sonia Sotomayor: ... and put it on the internet. So I get to the court, and a week later, when I'm first meeting Justice Stevens, he says to me, "you know, my law clerk showed me the video of you dancing; you do a pretty good job."
FEMALE 1: That's wonderful.
Sonia Sotomayor: A wonderful introduction to my colleagues.
FEMALE 1: That's wonderful. And the last question I have. Sometimes when you meet folks, it's a few minutes here and there, or you'll meet people now for your book-signing. If there was one thing that you would like someone to take away from your book, you could describe it one or two words, what would it be?
Sonia Sotomayor: If you are open to people, they will give back to you. If you close yourself off from people, you'll be alone, always. And I hope that the lesson I leave for people is that I'm not afraid of being vulnerable and letting people in. Because once you do, that's when you can really experience love, because you're letting others give it to you. I really appreciate meeting the people I do. I tell kids that I speak to all the time, "you're my inspiration. I take from you the energy to keep going, and to keep working hard at what I do." But if anyone meets me, I hope they will see the value of being open to others.
FEMALE 1: Okay. Thank you so much for talking to us; it was a pleasure.
Sonia Sotomayor: Thank you.
MALE 1: Can you do that last question one more time? Because as you were saying nobody was gonna let you in to [INDISCERNIBLE 0:12:41]
FEMALE 1: Okay.
Sonia Sotomayor: I'm sorry; I didn't hear what you just said.
MALE 1: Can we just do that last question --
FEMALE 1: That last question.
MALE 1: The last answer, because there was a car coming past.
Sonia Sotomayor: Oh. I didn't hear it. Now, are you gonna ask me to repeat what I just said? Wait a minute, guys.
FEMALE 1: I know, it was so beautiful.
MALE 1: It was a beautiful answer.
Sonia Sotomayor: I don't have that kind of memory.
FEMALE 1: I know, it was so beautiful.
Sonia Sotomayor: You're gonna have to get them -- you're gonna have to do it with the car noise, 'cause I can't repeat it in the same way. Okay.
FEMALE 1: I know. I'll try one more time. So --
Sonia Sotomayor: Alright, let's try it, and I'll try to remember what I said.
FEMALE 1: No problem. It's always good --
Sonia Sotomayor: I don't listen to me, you know?
FEMALE 1: It's always good. But people will read your book, and you will meet many folks that will get to meet you for only a few minutes of their life. If you had something to tell them, and what would you like them to get from your book? Just to take away, if you had to describe it one or two words, what can someone really get out of your story? What would you hope it be?
Sonia Sotomayor: That I've loved meeting them. People inspire me. Young kids inspire me. They're the ones that make me do what I do, and just to keep working hard at it. And I think that's because I try to be open, and vulnerable to people. I want them to know who I am, and my experience has been that the more open I am to others, the more open they are to me. If you are direct with people, honest with them, and you let them into your heart, almost everyone reciprocates and opens their heart to you. 'Cause if you don't, you're gonna be alone, and that's a sad, sad state. And so, it's my hope that when anyone meets me, that they'll know how grateful I am that they came over and took the time to say "hello."
FEMALE 1: Thank you so much.
Sonia Sotomayor: Different answer each time. You know, that's my problem.
FEMALE 1: That was great.
MALE 1: It's alright; that was really good.
Sonia Sotomayor: Now you pick among the two, 'cause this one had a noise, too, so...
FEMALE 1: Oh, absolutely. I really appreciate. It was wonderful --