Sunny Hostin, as a co-host on ABC’s The View, is known for being a truth teller. And in her new memoir, the former prosecutor shares personal stories of escaping poverty, battling roadblocks in her career and embracing her biracial identity.
Born Asunción Cummings to teenage parents in the South Bronx, Hostin was a gifted student and avid reader who started high school at the age of 12. Her family kept her away from the crime and violence happening on the streets, but the tough environment would ultimately inspire her to pursue a career in law.
“What made me choose to be a prosecutor and to just enter into criminal justice is because I saw my uncle stabbed in front of me and no one was prosecuted, nothing happened,” she tells Yahoo Life.
She emphasizes that having more representation in prosecution is essential to balancing the scales of justice. “The most powerful person in the criminal justice system is the prosecutor,” she adds. “The person that decides who to charge, what to charge you with, who brings the cases, what sentence you're going to be recommended, that is the prosecutor.”
As the only child of a Black father and Puerto Rican mother, issues of race and identity were constant themes in Hostin’s life. Her parents were each the first in their families to marry someone of another race, an experience that gave Hostin an early introduction to the realities of colorism.
“The complexion that I was, at least on my father's side was kind of coveted because of what this country does, has done to Black people. And on my mother's side, they would always call me Negrita,” she said. “Latinos will tell you that it's a term of endearment. I reject that, because it is just a form of colorism, right?”
Sunny’s experience with race in this country has made her a valuable voice on The View, where she consistently raises issues affecting Black and Latinx communities. Representation matters, and while she is encouraged to see more people of color in front of and behind the camera, she believes companies are still struggling to provide equity in terms of salary and titles, especially when it comes to Black women.
“Companies also don't want to give us equity in terms of opportunity,” she says. “So what I found in my career, especially in television, is that it wasn't merit based.”
Even so, Hostin continued to put in the work, landing gigs as a legal contributor to Fox News, CNN and ABC. In 2016, she was named an official host on The View, but the network never released a formal announcement. She remains the only host in the shows history who was not given an official weIcome.
While Hostin admits that this is a “minor indignity” compared to the racial injustices happening in our country, she can’t shake the feeling that she was treated differently, especially when viewers still question her permanence on the show.
“I think it's risky to talk about it, but I needed to talk about it,” she tells Yahoo Life. “It's not major, but for me it felt undignified and it felt insulting.”
Speaking honestly and living authentically is what fans have come to expect from Hostin, who hopes that her memoir will inspire others to do the same.
“I hope that they get some courage from it to speak their truth,” she says. “That's my wish in writing it.”
Video produced by Stacy Jackman
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