Words and Photographs by Mia Milosevic
Journalist Maria Hinojosa has long been open about hardships that she’s faced, from the story of her own immigration from Mexico to the United States, to the sexual assault she survived at 16. But more recently, the current political climate has forced her to confront these difficult experiences in ways she never imagined.
“This past summer, it’s like the two most intimate parts of myself clashed and exploded because of the news of the day,” said Hinojosa, best known for her work as the anchor and executive producer of NPR’s Latino USA, as well as the executive producer of PBS’s America By the Numbers.
“I was the immigrant baby that could have been taken from her mother. And with the accusations of sexual assault in the Supreme court – I had gone through the same thing of coming to terms with my own rape,” Hinojosa said, referencing Trump’s controversial child separation policies, as well as Brett Kavanaugh, president Trump’s pick for Supreme Court who was publicly accused of sexual assault this summer.
Hinojosa spoke about issues surrounding immigration at City College last week as part of the Rifkind lecture series. She centered her speech around her experiences as both a reporter and Mexican immigrant, especially under the sitting president.
“I am five things the president doesn’t like,” she remarked about Donald Trump, laughing as the audience joined in. “I am Mexican, I am an immigrant, I’m a journalist, I’m a woman, and I’m flat-chested.”
She also spoke with anger about President Trump’s attacks on the press, including assusing the media of being an “enemy of the people” on Twitter. ”We have a president that is mocking us, and goading for violence,” Hinojosa explained. “We already had a journalist from Maryland killed here,” she referenced the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, which took place last June as well as the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.
Despite the dire circumstances, Hinojosa left the audience with words of hope and encouragement. “We have to work extra hard now to own our voices, own our power, and own our narrative,” she advised the students.
“All of you embody something really powerful. The fact that we, in this city, have the capacity to see ourselves in each other. We are living proof that there is nothing to be afraid of. Every day in New York city that we’re all getting along is actually an amazing experience of what the future could look like for all of us.”