In her presentation Monday evening, journalist Maria Hinojosa spoke to Knox and Monmouth students about the problematic treatment of Latinos in the U.S. and the fact that this topic is underrepresented in mainstream media. She called on the audience members to use their privilege in order to shed light on this issue.
Hinojosa currently is the anchor and executive producer of NPR’s program ‘Latino USA’ and is working to develop a documentary series called ‘America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa’, which will air on PBS this fall. Hinojosa has won multiple awards for her work in journalism, including four Emmys.
Hinojosa said that Latinos have been “invisible” from the media, and often feels pressured to prove her place as a reporter. She said that her colleagues often write her off as an “advocacy journalist,” despite her multiple awards, due to her focus on Latinos.
She cited treatment of Latinos in the U.S. and their high detention and deportation rates as confusing, when they are also the highest growing demographic and provide large market in America.
“Latinos are a trillion dollar plus market. Everyone wants us as consumers, but we have the highest deportation and detention rates,” she said. “It’s confusing to all of us.”
Hinojosa noted that while Latinos were the highest growing demographic in the last census, they also have the fastest growing prison rate. She called the situation for Latinos in America the “U.S. Mambo” and said that they frequently take “three steps forward and two steps back.”
She said that though Latinos play a large role in the U.S. today, there is no major news outlet for them. She noted that the presence of Latinos in the media today is smaller than it was 40 years ago.
“Who is telling our stories with the level of complexity that we know exists?” she asked.
Hinojosa ended her presentation by calling on students in the audience to use their privilege to provide awareness and give a voice to Latinos in the America. Her speech was met with a standing ovation and was followed by questions from the audience.
“We need all of you, no matter what your background, to be engaged in the America we are living in,” she said.