Recently, I met with award-winning journalist, Maria Hinojosa.
Just a few months ago, I didn’t know who Maria Hinojosa was. I had never heard of her work, her obstacles or her triumphs.
Maria hosts and produces Latino USA, a groundbreaking program on NPR which has aired for 20 years. Maria is also the President of Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit media organization she started after realizing—no matter how hard she tried—the boys-club construct of corporate media wasn’t going to cover race, immigration and poverty in a constructive way.
There are a few other things I didn’t know just a few months ago.
I didn’t know how deeply colonized the art of journalism was. And the yearly statisticsㅡwhich which would have us believe, as people of color, that we are not making news mediaㅡdidn’t bother me as much as they do now.
She is the most recent mentor in my own journey to find media justice; to finding truth.
Maria, and others like her, are out there. Opening eyes and changing narratives; telling the stories of America. She’s an inspiration to any young woman of color, not just journalists. She’s an inspiration to any young woman who feels their voice is not recognized or appreciated.
“We should proudly own our own narratives,” she said to me.
It was a fortifying experience to have an accomplished journalist tell me “Thank you” for choosing journalism. And that, as a young Indigenous woman, my voice is needed.
She expressed regret at not visiting reservations more. But, she does do more.
More than the commercial stenographers who crudely place their microscope on our forgotten communities to tell stories that say, “Look at those people. Look at what they are doing to themselves.”
Maria’s advice to me was to make the human connection before all else. I took that advice in my next interview; I tried to place myself aside and really hear the person I interviewed. I tried to imagine my life experience as theirs. It made all the difference and, I walked away having learned and felt more.
I appreciate my time with Maria, miles apart, but connecting through our common love. That’s where the work comes from: love. A love of people, a love of story and life.
Thank you for being brave, Maria, thank you for being fearless and for telling me I can do the same.