Maria Hinojosa rarely saw her experience reflected in mainstream media coverage while growing up. So once the Emmy-winning journalist started covering her own stories, she decided to put Latinos’ narratives front and center.
Hinojosa was born in Mexico City before her family moved to a diverse, middle class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. While Hinojosa felt “totally American,” she knew that her identity as a Mexican-American was something “very particular.” Unfortunately, that part of her identity never made it into the news stories she would read and watch.
“There was no conversation about immigration, Latino immigration, Mexican immigration. We were invisible,” she told The Huffington Post.
The dearth of diverse faces and stories pushed Hinojosa into a “a place of self doubt.” So she took it upon herself to push for broader Latinx visibility in the media by starting to tell the underreported stories about her community.
“I needed to tell these stories. I wanted to tell these stories. I wanted to see myself. I wanted my kids to see themselves and I wanted other young people to see themselves too,” she said.
Today, Hinojosa is the host and executive producer of the longest running Latino-focused program on U.S. public media, NPR’s “Latino USA.” Her show has covered the struggles that Latinx children face in public schools, the growing Latinx electorate in the U.S., the impact that Latinos have had on hip-hop culture and much more.
“At this point in my career, I am an American journalist, but I’m also a Latino journalist,” she said. “I’m also a Latina entrepreneur and I’ve understood that I’ve had to own my Latina leadership and understand that I am setting the tone for a lot of younger people to follow in my footsteps.”
Watch Hinojosa explain why she’s placed her Latina identity front and center throughout her career in the video above.
This video was produced by Liz Martinez, edited by Melissa Pellicano and shot by Matthew Cady, Carlton Carrington and Ian Macinnes.