From the South Bronx to Martha’s Vineyard: Sunny Hostin is on a mission to bridge access gaps for people of color

“It's kind of surreal that a kid from the South Bronx projects even knows about Martha's Vineyard.

Sunny Hostin of ‘The View.’ (ABC/Paula Lobo)

The fierce and sharp commentary present in all of talk show host Sunny Hostin’s on-camera work, is a product of the rough neighborhoods that raised her.  Born in the South Bronx projects to a Puerto Rican mom and Black dad, the famed co-host of The View grew into her purpose by watching Barbara Walters interview people on TV in the 70s. Hostin’s mom mistook her early passion for broadcast journalism as a desire to be an actress and convinced her daughter to focus her energy on a seemingly more secure path in law. 

“My mother told me I was going to study law because, you know, back then, law or medicine was your way out,” Hostin told theGrio. 

“And then I applied to law school, took the LSAT and I got into so many schools, and I got a full scholarship. And I thought, ‘Well, I am kind of good at arguing. I’ll try it.’”

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Even though law school didn’t initially present a direct path to a career in media, Hostin’s knowledge of the legal system helped her navigate both personal and professional environments.

“What I loved about it was I learned about our rights, and it’s very powerful. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, didn’t speak English. And so I would go to the store with her and people would make fun of her and try to cheat her and I would fight. But now I knew the law. I knew the tools. I knew the right and the wrong. And that’s a very powerful thing.”

Armed with a law degree, Hostin went on to land her first on-screen role as a pundit for Court TV, which opened doors to other on-air opportunities including The O’Reilly Factor, CNN’s American Morning and contributor guest spots on The View. In September of 2016, Hostin was announced as a permanent co-host of the popular daytime show. 

As a Black woman in the public eye, Hostin is committed to bridging the wealth access gaps for people of color from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Calling education the “great equalizer,” the Emmy award winner wants to empower Black people to know more about the history that informs our future. Her forthcoming book, Summer On The Bluffs, reframes the white and arrogant reputation of Martha’s Vineyard as a historic safe haven for Black people.

“It’s kind of surreal that a kid from the South Bronx projects even knows about Martha’s Vineyard. And that’s another reason why I wrote the book because I wanted people to know about this incredible place,” she told theGrio.

“Black people have been going there since the Harlem Renaissance even before then. So you have people like Dorothy West who used to write there, and you have folks, you know, MLK, and it’s got this rich, beautiful history. It was actually one of the only places that Black people were allowed to buy beachfront property. So it has this rich history that I wanted more people to know about.”Hostin’s first fiction novel, Summer On The Bluffs, hits shelves in June 16, 2020.

Check out the full interview above.

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