North Texas Daily

Maria Hinojosa tells students to “own it”

Maria Hinojosa tells students to “own it”

Maria Hinojosa tells students to “own it”
November 18
14:34 2014

Jordan Ottaway / Contributing Writer

Maria Hinojosa used the Nov. 4 midterm elections to her advantage to further engage her audience Monday night as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Hinojosa is an award-winning investigative journalist who is currently the anchor and executive producer of NPR’s long-running weekly program, “Latino USA.” She has also become the first Latina to anchor a “Frontline” report on PBS, “Lost in Detention,” which explored abuse at immigrant detention facilities.

Centering her talk around issue of immigration and underrepresentation of the Latino community in the media, Hinojosa stressed the sense of confusion experienced by Latinos. She said they are the fastest-growing voting body, but feels like society is pulling them in and then pushing them away.

“You love us and hate us at the same time,” she said during her talk.

She explained that confusion by giving an example from the recent midterm elections saying Latinos were told that they were important and that their votes counted.

But closer to election day they were told their votes don’t really matter and won’t make a real impact. Hinojosa called that a “U.S. Mambo: three steps forward and two steps back.”

Recalling a Saturday Night Live skit, she conveyed her point describing the skit where President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner were at a bar talking about immigration reform, but then laughing because they realize neither will do anything about it.

“It’s like they want to laugh the electorate away,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa continued to lay out statistics like how the number of Latinos getting a higher education in Syracuse, New York is the highest in a long time, but is negated by the fact that there is a 65 percent dropout rate.

“How do you get there without saying ‘this is a crisis,’” she asked.

Getting to where she is today was not easy. Hinojosa said just because she is standing on a stage talking at North Texas doesn’t mean that she has it all together. It was her drive for the mission of making the community that is invisible visible. She did not give up, and she will never give up.

Denton community member, Erica Granados-De La Rosa, was captivated by Hinojosa’s talk. She attended because she wants to one day become a producer like Hinojosa but is still unsure about what medium it will be through.

“That was real. I’m mad emotional right now,” De La Rosa said. “I know it’s going to sound corny, but as a young Latina woman, her saying ‘don’t give up’ really spoke to me.”

Hinojosa repeated multiple times saying to own your power and not to be filled with “silence and shame” and that it is about the mission for your civil responsibilities.

“We are a part of a great tradition that is actually an international tradition of great responsible journalism,” Hinojosa said. “For young journalists, I would hope they would remember that in the work that they are doing and keep their eye on the prize.”

Featured photo: Maria Hinojosa joyfully responds to a student’s question during the Q&A session following her lecture. Photo by Jordan Ottaway

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