By: Mary McGill and Kori Hinkley
Award-winning journalist, news anchor and producer Maria Hinojosa provided insight into a Latina’s perspective on politics in 2016 during the Chautauqua lecture on Sept. 22.
Hinojosa is the anchor and executive producer of Latina USA on National Public Radio, providing coverage of Latina issues. She is also the anchor and executive producer of the PBS series America by the Numbers. Over 25 years, she has worked for CNN, PBS, CBS, WNBC, and WGBH, spreading her knowledge on cultural and political changes.
“I am hyper-aware of the issue of race,” Hinojosa said, referring to the growing fear of immigrants in the United States. “As a journalist, I have to understand that fear.”
“A country that bills itself as a melting pot is also full of fear, anger and resistant to change,” she said.
Hinojosa said that she is troubled by the thought of young generation voters supporting Donald Trump’s policies.
“I’m a woman, a journalist, an immigrant, and a Latina–four things that Trump doesn’t like,” Hinojosa said. “But I am equal to him because I am a U.S. citizen.”
Every minute, another Latino turns 18 in the United States, making them eligible to vote, Hinojosa said. She added that public officials will have to acknowledge the growing power that voting block will command in the near future.
“The kind of change is irrefutable,” she said.
Hinojosa posed the question: Why now is so much anger surrounding the changes occurring in America? The answer, she said, largely stems from fear and it’s on both sides.
Some Americans fear those coming into the country, and the immigrants coming in also experience as some are detained indefinitely without even the basic rights afforded to them.
“If you are a criminal in the U.S., you have more basic rights than if you are an immigrant,” Hinojosa said.
But Hinojosa made it clear that she will not allow any politician to instill fear in her.
She spoke of the first presidential debate, and how there were no Latina journalists scheduled to cover the event, even though there’s a major Latino population in the United States.
Hinojosa said the Latino problem has its own set of problems, aside from the fear and prejudice that seems to plague the general population. For example, Latina teens have the highest rate of attempted suicide in America.
“How do Latinos and Latinas fit into the narrative while of this is happening?” Hinojosa said, referring to the difficult situations often forced upon them. “This is the time that we are loved and despised at the same time.”
Despite the negative perspectives towards immigration, Hinojosa said she still finds hope in what she sees in Kentucky, which was the willingness of its people to learn and grow.
“I’m going to take the good things I’ve seen in Kentucky and spread them to the places I travel,” Hinojosa said.