Sunny Hostin is asked “the question” three times a week.
“Just this week I posted something on Instagram and someone commented, ‘Is Sunny Puerto Rican or black?,’ ” “The View” co-host told The Post.
It’s a question she’s heard her whole life. “People would stare at me, they would call me a zebra,” the lawyer and journalist said.
The former CNN analyst explores her biracial background and rise through the media ranks in her new book, “I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds” (Harper One), out Tuesday.
Judgment about her race happens at work, too. “It really irritated me,” she writes, referring to colleagues who tell her she isn’t black enough or Latina enough.
Hostin, whose full first name is Asunción, grew up “really poor” in the South Bronx to a Puerto Rican mother and black father who were both teenagers when they had her. “There were days they couldn’t pay the electric bill and the gas bill. I didn’t have heat, I didn’t have hot water,” she said.
“The Loving [v. Virginia] decision allowing interracial couples to get married came down in 1967. I was born in ’68,” she said. “It sounds so weird now, but my father told me just recently that [I’m] the first person on [his] side of the family to enjoy full civil rights.”
Though she remembers a childhood “filled with laughter and love,” playing in the spray from fire hydrants and going to museums, the struggles and violence she experienced helped her forge a career in the courtroom — and eventually on TV.
In one particularly harrowing incident when she was just 7, Hostin witnessed her uncle get stabbed. “It certainly shaped why I went into criminal law and why I wanted to be a prosecutor because I wanted to make sure that when bad things happen, people [are held] accountable.”
Hostin graduated from the Upper East Side’s prestigious Dominican Academy at 16. That year, she started college at SUNY Binghamton on a full scholarship. After attending Notre Dame Law School, Hostin worked as an assistant US attorney, before becoming a legal analyst for Court TV, FOX, CNN and then ABC. She joined “The View” in 2016.
Though she’s always told the stories of others, the three-time Emmy winner found it challenging to turn the focus on herself.
She said the hardest chapter for her to write was “Motherhood,” in which Hostin reveals her struggles with infertility. She and her husband Emmanuel ultimately used IVF to conceive and grow their family, but after finally getting pregnant with her son Gabriel, who recently graduated high school, she nearly lost him after her placenta tore. She spent months feeling “depressed” on bed rest. Attached to a fetal heart monitor, she only got up to go to doctors’ appointments.
“When I narrated the audiobook, I literally sobbed in the booth,” said Hostin. “I’m hoping that in sharing particularly that story, that other women will talk more about these kinds of things.”
Indeed, speaking out about tough subjects is what propelled her into the spotlight.
Hostin was working for CNN in 2013 when she was sent to cover the trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black boy who was killed by George Zimmerman.
“It was starting to be uncomfortably clear that CNN was trying to hype this distorted image of Trayvon, making him out to be an aggressive black boy who somehow provoked the death sentence Zimmerman felt he had the right to mete out,” she writes. “It all made me bristle, and I began to counterpunch, offering more of my perspective on the air.”
She claims that CNN pulled her from the assignment because they thought she was “too close” to the story. The network asked her to return to NYC; she decided to stay in Sanford, Fla., and watch the trial on her own time.
CNN did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
“The Trayvon Martin story changed my life,” she writes. It also reinforced her path as an advocate against racism.
“I think it’s really important to give voice to the voiceless,” she said. “I was made to talk about social justice.”
Hostin continues that work on “The View,” which recently returned to ABC, though the talk show is being filmed from home. “I’d much rather be in-studio. I have a little bit of a delay, a few seconds, so it’s almost impossible to respond in real-time,” she said.
Though the hosts — Whoopi Goldberg, Meghan McCain, Joy Behar and Sara Haines — can’t spar in person, the ladies keep in touch as much as they can in their group chat. “We text all the time,” said Hostin. “I wake up to these early morning texts from Joy; she wakes up to late-night texts from me. Meghan falls asleep on the group chat,” Hostin said. “Whoopi is an insomniac. So you’ll get the weird Whoopi memojis now and then. It’s a real treat.”
Despite the constant conversation, Hostin said they save the real drama for the screen.
“It’s almost like we were built for this moment: we’re talking politics, a pandemic and social justice,” she said. “We haven’t missed a beat.”