I never imagined hearing the words “it’s okay to be emotional” coming from a professional journalist. I always imagined the professionals were a lot different than me; completely separated from their feelings and values within their work. Maria Hinojosa proved me wrong.
Maria Hinojosa is the Anchor and Executive Producer of Latino USA and she has been working in the field of journalism for 25 years. Through all of the work that she does, Maria continues to be an inspiration for women and for people of color around the world.
Recently, a small group of our GJ team hosted a Google Chat with Maria and it was a conversation that brought me to tears. Before we introduced ourselves, she spent a few minutes providing us with a pep talk. One of the first things she mentioned was the fact that much of her inspiration to pursue journalism was the invisibility that she experienced within the media, which is something that I can definitely relate to. I understand that if people of color are not represented within media making, the media, itself, will be biased.
Before I began my work with Generation Justice, I hated the media. Anytime I would consume mainstream media, I would be presented with the criminalization and the marginalization of my people, people of color, and it became exhausting. It is a rare occasion to watch a news broadcast without seeing a brown person put into a negative spotlight, and this is where my hatred originated.
Now, I have the opportunity to combat that invisibility by pursuing media making myself. I was always taught that if I see something wrong, it becomes my responsibility to change it. My involvement with Generation Justice has allowed me to fulfill that responsibility.
She also told us that she could have chosen not to be a critical and socially conscious journalist, which would have been a much easier path to follow. But, she chose not to abandon her values, and has pursued her profession through the framework of what she believes in: remaining socially conscious, and helping to tell America’s untold stories and bringing to light unsung heroes.
Hearing about this brought me to tears. I have to believe that I can be a successful journalist and not have to leave behind how I feel about the world. When I see something wrong, I want to have the freedom to expose it and I want to be fearless in doing so. I also want the ability to be successful in providing a platform for people to tell their own stories, just as Maria does. I know that the world of corporate funded media seems inevitable, but I have to believe that there are ways to work around it.
The more that we wanted to know about her, the more Maria continued to bring the conversation back to us and the work that we do. I am thankful for this because it can sometimes be difficult to understand our impact when we are surrounded by our work. I know now that we are part of a huge movement of people, like Maria Hinojosa, who are working to ensure that tomorrow is a better day for everyone.
Thank you for everything that you do, Maria.