On September 15, 2020 – the first day of Latinx Heritage month last year, Maria Hinojosa released her new book, Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America. We were (unknowingly) at the end of the Trump presidency and tensions were high. Hinojosa, a well-known voice in that Latinx community, decided to share her life story with us. But it wasn’t just a memoir. Or at least it wasn’t just a memoir of herself. It was a memoir of America and its Latinx communities.
From the jacket cover:
“In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations – charging us with the broken system we have today.
This honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while uncovering the truth. Once I Was You is an urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all.”
Hinojosa is most known for her work on Latino USA, one of the first public radio programs devoted to the Latinx community. She launched the NPR program in 1992 and serves as host and executive producer. Futuro Media Group, a multi-platform, community-based journalism company founded by Hinojosa in 2010, took over the production of Latino USA.
She has worked for various networks including CNN, NPR, and PBS and created a space for Latinx voices to be represented.
Her most recent achievement was a bit part (not quite a cameo) in the 2021 film, In the Heights. She played the part of a protest leader at a DREAMer rally.
Here are a couple of podcast interviews with Hinojosa that I enjoyed.