Sunny Hostin on Her "Brutally Honest" New Book
The View co-host talks to People CHICA about embracing her roots, rising above challenges, and sharing her most valuable life lessons in her new memoir I Am These Truths.
In her revealing new memoir I Am These Truths, Sunny Hostin tackles topics like her biracial identity, facing discrimination, and the obstacles she's overcome in her career. "I was pretty nervous about sharing so much, but I knew that once I made the decision to do it, I had to be brutally honest about everything," she tells People CHICA. "What I was most concerned about is that in telling my story I was also going to be telling the story of my mom, my dad, my grandmother, my husband, and my children, and I wanted to make sure I did it justice."
During the cathartic writing process, the View co-host had to take breaks while remembering some of the more difficult moments in her life. "I had to start and stop many times. I was literally sobbing," she says. "I was almost grieving as I was narrating it and reliving it."
From her Puerto Rican mother, Sunny "learned resilience," she says. "For her, she came second and I was the priority. She had me at such a young age, at 18, that she lived a life of a dream deferred. She taught me how to mother, how to love, how to put someone else first, how to sacrifice." Sunny's father, who is Black, also had a big influence on her life. "It pains me when I hear people say so often that Black dads are not present in the home, especially young teenage dads. My father has been present in my life every single day. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't speak to him. He is an example for me of what a man should be."
In the book, Hostin also talks openly about racism in the United States. "People say, 'I don't see color, I don't see race,' and I say, 'You don't see colors? So how do you drive? You don't see the stop light?'" she says. "My father is truly someone who doesn't relate to people based on color. That's why I think he was able to marry someone like my mom, who is a white Hispanic, in the '60s." It still boggles her mind that in 1967, just one year before her parents married, it was illegal for interracial couples to wed in the U.S. Growing up, she felt that her parents were treated differently because of their differing skin colors. "People would stare at our family and call him names," she recalls.
Today, she talks to her daughter Paloma, 14, and her son Gabriel, 18, about the Black Lives Matter movement. "My children are incredibly resilient. As a person of color, of course we talk about race. We are at a divisive time in our country," she says. "They have become their own advocates. It's unbelievable how active they are in what's going on in the country in terms of race, in terms of this election."
During her own childhood, she experienced discrimination because she is biracial. "I was kind of a unicorn when there weren't a lot of mixed-race kids. I was asked, 'Who are you? What are you? You have to choose.' It continued throughout my life, being treated differently," she says. "People accuse you of playing the race card. I think the answer is talking about race, equity, and diversity."
Representing women of color on The View is something she doesn't take for granted. "I'm humbled and honored by it," she shares. "When I was growing up I wanted to be a broadcast journalist, and I would watch 60 Minutes and all these shows, these newsmagazines, and no one looked like me at all. For me to be that person for a young journalist is really awesome."
She says she is looking forward to her children and her husband reading the book, which is on sale now. "When you're writing your memoir you can't ask for permission. You have to write it from your perspective and beg for forgiveness after," she explains. "My mom lives with us — like many Latino families we are multigenerational." So when her mom saw the manuscript of Sunny's new book on a nightstand, she read it.
Getting through the chapter where Sunny discusses her parents' divorce was hard for her mom. "She called me and said, 'I don't like this book. Why did you tell everybody's business?' She didn't speak to me for about a week!" she jokes. "Afterward, she said, 'I'm glad you're telling our story, I think it will help people.'"
It was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a friend, who encouraged Sunny to write a book about her life. She kept her promise, publishing the memoir in both English and Spanish. "My journey has been kind of bumpy and really painful in part, but that's life," says the author, 51. "If it gives someone hope, then it will matter."
The lawyer, columnist, journalist, and ABC News legal correspondent recognizes that she is who she is because of the support of her loved ones. "For me, nothing is more important than my family. I have turned down so many opportunities, my own show, because they would take me away from my family. It's everything. My parents, my kids, my husband make me whole."
She hopes her book empowers those who read it. "It's important for Latinas to understand that their voices are so important," she says. "I hope that in reading my book, Latina women will realize their strength, how strong we are. They must stand on that strength. There is strength in truth."