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Photo: Santigo-Garza
Photo: Santigo-Garza

Maria Hinojosa, the first Latina at NPR, has released a new book

The Latina journalist has written about our community long ignored by mainstream media, and wrote a memoir called ‘I was you.’

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To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, trailblazing and award-winning Latina journalist, Maria Hinojosa, released her own memoir on Sept. 15 titled: Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America. 

Hinojosa is a journalist to look up to, and many do. Her story is one of coming to the United States from Mexico as a little girl and rising to a career working as a reporter with posts at CBS, NPR, and CNN during a time when people of color were much less represented even by today’s standards. 

Recently, she spoke with NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday to recount some of the newsroom experiences she lived through and tells in her book. 

Her beginnings, like many non-white journalists were rough. 

She described the experience of being the first Latina at NPR as a journalist and not cleaning staff as a terrifying one. 

“They would say, 'Oh, you have an agenda. We know your Latino agenda, we know you have an immigrant agenda,'” she said.

Thinking back and unbeknownst to her at the time, she said perhaps she did have a Latino agenda, but has channeled it into a career that has empowered voices like hers in the media industry. 

Today, she is the founder of Futuro Media, an independent nonprofit organization that produces multimedia content from a POC perspective, and produces journalism designed to educate and inspire both viewers and listeners. 

Part of that work is elevating the immigrant story, which is what she’s doing with her memoir.

“We all have to work at making the immigrant story much more public because this narrative has been constructed not over the past four years.” said Hinojosa, who primarily focused her reporting on politics and immigration. 

To report on others' experiences is already tough, but to report on your own is another animal. 

Before her book, Hinojosa also decided to write about her own traumatic experience being raped when she was a teenager after what came out about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford.

“I wanted to write about it also because Latinas, we don't often talk about this very publicly. After you write about it, and you cry about it and you do therapy, there's healing on the other side.” 

With healing comes hope, and that is what she grants to young rising Latinx journalists eager to fill her shoes..

Her word of advice to them? DO NOT GIVE UP. 

“We need you,” said Hinojosa. “We need you to power through the invisibility that you feel, own your power, own your voice.”

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