Episode One Transcript

Chuck Rocha:
You know, growing up, I wasn't the most prolific reader. Reading was always challenging because if you grew up like I did in east, Texas, and you were good at football, they'd put you through school and you didn't really have to read that much or learn to read that much they would just move you along. I would live to regret that later in life when I didn't get to do much reading and I saw there was so much that I missed. So when I discovered audio books, it was a real gift. I got to go back and listen to things that I'd heard people had said they had read about because I'd heard all of these stories, but I never read them. Now I get to listen to them in an audio book and that was really different for me and I would say life changing in a way.


One of the best books I've ever listened to is Maria Hinojosa's memoir, Once I Was You. She opened up about her family's migration from Mexico to the U.S., her path to become the journalist that we've all come to love. What I love the most, that for more than two decades, Maria's been documenting our stories. She became the first Latino correspondent for NPR back in the 80s.
 

Over the years, she's covered all kinds of stories from poverty in the South, to immigration, to mental health, and let's not forget she's won four Emmys for her work. If you're like me, you've probably seen her recently on your TV reporting on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, you may have caught her lately in the new movie, In The Heights. I also got a chance to learn more about Maria as a woman, as a mother, as a coworker, and even as a fitness influencer boxing out in central park. We talked about Chicago, New York city, and her journey to where she is today as CEO of Futuro Media. As Maria said during our interview, we as Latino people are literally documenting American history with our stories. This is the very first episode of Nuestro featuring my sister, my friend, award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa.


I personally got to know you through your book, which we'll talk about soon, but what I really want people to understand, they get to see the fancy Maria on TV and in the movies. But tell me about Maria, the little girl in Mexico.


Maria Hinojosa:
I'm like the fancy Maria on TV and in the movies. It's like, "Well, I really haven't left my house for a long time", and all of those things that you mentioned, like being on TV or being in the movie, In the Heights, which definitely was a dream come true, really to me are a reflection of... Yeah, of kind of my commitment to being visible. How does that happen? It doesn't happen immediately, as you know, Chuck it's not like you're just like, "Oh my God, I'm 12 years old and I'm a powerful Latina. I'm a powerful Mexican right here."


No, [foreign language] of course, the idea with us is that we want to make that happen for young people sooner. But that little Maria, I was the youngest of four. And my dad was a nerd from Tampico who had an insane dream of wanting to help people who were born deaf, who wanted to be able to hear again. He was like, "I want to make that happen." So it's kind of like having a father who's like, "I want to go to the moon". And people are like, "That's loco." And my mom from Mexico city Berta, who was... To use that term, if you will, that's always used for Latinas, but she definitely is a firecracker. She was just like, "What?"


And so we moved to Chicago when I'm really small. That's the whole story of my arrival in this country. And my early years were in a very safe place, kind of this Mexican nest, first in Boston, actually, outside of Cambridge, and then in Chicago, which is where we settled. It was all Spanish. There were [foreign language] in my home. Even though we were not really Catholic, my dad was a scientist and so it was like, Jesus, going to church, praying? No, that was not my dad.
 

But we had [foreign language] it was always Mexican food. It was never about abundance. It was always like, [foreign language]. And just kind of... Because my dad was a medical doctor, but he was a research medical doctor. So he lived grant to grant. The other two parts of that young Maria was kind of being exposed to the civil rights era and the other part that was central was my traveling in Mexico every year. Mexico became a source of ancestral power. It was like plugging me in with an electric cord and just being like, "These are your ancestral roots. Know them, see them. They are a part of you."


Chuck Rocha:
Growing up as a little girl in Chicago, other than it being shockingly cold, what do you remember about the neighborhood itself?


Maria Hinojosa:
Actually, we lived... I came later to describe it actually, Chuck. In the early 1990s when people were having a conniption about things going multicultural, I don't know if you remember that, but there was like the United States is going to be teaching multiculturalism. Oh my God, what's happening very similar to critical race theory. Like, oh my God. And I was just like, but you know, if you want to take that term multicultural, which is a little outdated, I grew up in a multicultural utopia. That's what Hyde park was like. It was very black. It was Jewish. It was white. There were Chinese folks. Not a lot of Mexicans there, [foreign language] . We were, I say we [foreign language] was on 18th street in Pilsen. And so I was shuttling between these two because my dad, you know, would drive to work five minutes away from our house near the university of Chicago.


That's why we lived in that community. My parents had very... Like boundaries, racial boundaries, all of that kind of racial hatred, all of that. They didn't really understand it. It was very foreign and actually it was a source of making them distrust this country deeply, which they were right. We were kind of borderless, we would travel deep into black communities because we were like, "why not?" And we traveled deep into Mexican communities because we were like, "of course", and we traveled deep into white communities where they did not like people of color. And we were kind of like, "Yeah, we'll do this too even though we might kind of lay low in the seats a little bit", we were like, Hmm. And, and I think that, and being exposed to the civil rights' era, actually hearing Martin Luther king speak, like seeing him on television [crosstalk]


Speaker 3:
...Doctor Martin Luther King.


Speaker 4:
I am happy to John with you today in what will go down in history. As... [crosstalk]


Maria Hinojosa:
You know, those things really mark you. I mean, of course now, when I see a movie like Judas in the black Messiah and I'm like, "That was my neighborhood, that was my neighborhood". You see the [foreign language] that has existed in Chicago. That also marked me because I was experiencing that. I was living that and I believe like you do that we are deeply political human beings. Whether we express it in one way or another, we are along all impacted by the politics around us.


Chuck Rocha:
I think back now, after knowing who you are later in life of reading your book and listening to your book, it made me understand more because I grew up in that same time, a world away in each Texas. That's why we speak so differently, but connected by that commonality of bond of sisters and brothers and folks in struggle. So when it's time to leave college, you leave Chicago and head to the big apple, New York City where you majored in Latin American study. You also took a campus job as a producer and a host of a student radio show. What was it like to hear your voice on the radio for the very first time?


Maria Hinojosa:
So the reason why I end up doing college radio is because it was really because of political commitment. I go in like any first year person and I'm doing... Is the orientation week and I'm trying to see what do I like. Do I want to take a dance class? Do I want to be a part of the French club? Do I want to be a part of the communist club? I mean, way back then it was the young socialists. So there were like political things. And among that, I was like Columbia university, which is the main institution, Barnard college is the women's college and remains the women's college affiliated, but separate from Columbia university. Columbia university had like a serious college radio station. Like they had won awards.


They were all jazz and classical. So they were like really changing the format. They had a 90 mile listenership. So you think about 90 miles all around New York City plus all of New York city, 8 million people... [crosstalk].
 

Chuck Rocha:
That's huge. That's just huge [crosstalk]


Maria Hinojosa:
It's massive you know? And so it was like, whoa, you know what, let me go see what they do. And there were some guys who were running what was called the Latin music department. It was [foreign language] music three nights a week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM. And Latinos had fought political battles during the 1960s and early seventies on the campus where there were takeovers and the same kind of conversation of "we want to be seen, we want to be represented". And the Latinos were like, "We want time on the air at WKCR", and they fought and they got... Is it prime time?
 

I think for the Latino community in New York doing 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM was like really hot actually. It was a great time slot. I just wish I could still do it now. That's not going to happen.


Chuck Rocha:
Me and you both. Me and you both.


Maria Hinojosa:
But anyway, so I was like, "Hi, my name is Maria and"... Or actually back then it was... I still referred to myself as Maria. And I was like, but "Here's my number". I stopped in every now and then and tried to do a little bit of news because I was like, maybe I want to do journalism because I don't really know salsa, not Puerto Rican. I want to totally respect that space that they have fought for in this city. Maybe I could do news, reporting on central America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, eh, one year passes. And when I come back to begin, the second year of college, I get a call and they're like, "Hey, we need to meet with you".


And it was like, okay, "What?". And they like, "Listen, one of our guys is leaving. We have the Wednesday night slot, open 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM and we need you to take over that slot". and I was like, "What do you... I was at... I was starting my second year in college. You know? You're like what do you guys tell talking about? Are you crazy? Like I've never been on the air, I don't"... they were like, "Do you have records? We know that you like [foreign language]", which was a political... is a political song movement. It's actually a song movement about politics and people in struggle. Yeah. I was political already. And my brother had collected, [foreign language] you know, I had 10 records and they said, well, "if you have 10 records, that's 10 records. More than anybody else we know, you got to do this".
 

And then he looked at me, my Puerto Rican friend and he was like, "You have to do this, this is your responsibility. We fought for these hours. You are Latina who is representing, you have to do this". And I was like, "okay, [inaudible] ". And so then the next thing you know, there, I was on the radio and hearing my voice, that was the last thing... I didn't even... It was very hard for me Chuck to hear my voice because, remember it was like cassettes and LPs. I would've had to like be recording my voice. And then I would've had to have a cassette recorder, this was before Walkmans.
 

People are like, "What are you talking about? What's a Walkman". So in order to have a cassette recorder, it was not something that everybody had a lot of. So you're asking me if I heard my voice, I didn't actually spend a lot of time hearing my voice because it was not as easy as now. Now you record yourself, you hear yourself, you play yourself back. We didn't have that back then. But I do of course, remember when I did hear my voice and I was like, "You sound terrible. You should never do this. Stop talking".


Chuck Rocha:
I... Stepping back in time. It was a different age for all of you kids listening right now that you couldn't just... There was no thing as an iPhone.


Maria Hinojosa:
Exactly.


Chuck Rocha:
We both remember when I carried a pager as an organizer and folks in east Texas didn't know if I was a drug dealer or labor organizer. And I was a little of, one of the other. Anyway, I digress. Look there's a part in your book I got to ask you about, and a lot of people may not know this, but I read that you had this really strong desire to become an actress after graduation. I need to know where that came from and what made you want to go on and be the next great actress in Hollywood?


Maria Hinojosa:
Well, to be honest, I think it's because I was the youngest and so, I mean, definitely, I don't think my sister who was the eldest, therefore, under my parents' very intense watch, I don't think this would've... And it was never her dream by the way. But as the youngest of four [foreign language] if you will, there's a moment that I write about, which is kind of... It feels a little like, oh my God, but especially if you go back and you actually watch West Side Story the original, which I did, but in the movie, Natalie Wood, who is white, but looked like my mom, a different kind of version in, because her hair was super dark, super intense eyebrows, all of these things that you did not see on American television. And so when Tony is singing to her like [inaudible] you know the song in West Side Story, I think there was something in me that was like, I want to be that, I want to be that person who's doing that like I can see myself doing that.
 

I mean, I think it's totally crazy that I would imagine that, but it was such an important moment for me because before that Chuck I was... Didn't exist. You know, [foreign language] Maria, what? Maria what? There were no Maria's anywhere except for in Mexico. So in the United States, I was invisible. Now for many of us as Latinos and Latinas and people of color in this country, a lot of those like, "Oh, that's what...". We're sadly revolved around these moments of being invisible and then suddenly feeling visible or being targeted because of who we were or feeling discriminated again. So it's not always a pretty picture, but I think we need to do the work of telling these stories. So I love the fact that you're like asking me to talk about these memories, because we are documenting American history with our stories.


Chuck Rocha:
You've had this thing at college and then you thought about being an actress. Well then you start transitioning into this journalism and into being a storyteller. I think what I want people to hear next is what was that, that drove you in that direction to feel like, "Well, this is maybe what I want to do".


Maria Hinojosa:
Well I definitely was not going to be an actress so that... When you get to New York and you're just like well... Actually something very specific happens. I meet a director, I audition for something and this white male director, who knows how old he was, I was 17, 18. And, and he was like, "That was very good audition, but I'm not exactly sure how I see you in this business because you're not tall enough or short enough or Latina enough or Mexican enough or white enough or street enough or sophisticated enough. Like I'm not really sure like where...", Like he wanted to fit me into a box where I was just like, "But am I a good actor?" And I think that I allowed that to kill my dream. And then you come to New York where everybody that you met wanted to be an actor. And so I did let that go by the wayside.
 

There was a period of time in the United States where there were no Latinas doing journalism. Very few women. Barbara Walters was the first one who I saw that I remember doing television reporting. So women or in general were not doing journalism, Latinas or [inaudible] completely invisible. There was one moment when somebody called me when I was doing my radio show on a Wednesday night and this guy called me up and he was like, "I work at NPR. I produce for them and you really have a voice for radio". Speaking of my voice, Chuck and I was like, "Are you kidding?" He was like, "You really should... You should do this. Like you may be able to do this". I think that planted the seed. But there was a lot of insecurity between that phone call and actually finally, filling out the application to be an intern at All Things Considered.
 

Once I walked into the newsroom at NPR, even though I was the first Latina ever to walk into the editorial spaces of NPR, I was like, "Oh man, this is just so cool". Like I wanted... Oh my God, the whiteboard, cause there no computers, there were no computers. It was all typewriters with three pages, three ply, everything was copied three times when you would type that's how you would get copies to people.
 

It was actually doing it on three plus or running in, in a, do we have a Xerox copy machine? But I walked in there and I was like, oh my God, this is... Because, I loved journalism. I was a journalism addict. My whole family was because yeah, we were consuming the news. Every single night and morning. We were talking about the news of the United States of America. And so even though I never saw myself or my father or my mother or my community or I was still watching. When I walked into that room and I was like, "Oh, so this is where the magic happens. This is... and I'm in here. Somehow I made it into the... Oh hell yes, I'm right here". And that I think planted the seed, but it was... Of course there were a lot of rejections on the way between that moment of just like "Yeah, I want to do this" and actually making it happen.


Chuck Rocha:
And I think that for us, Latinos, Latinas, Latinx, all of the folks of color who have showed up in that room, especially us Maria who are a little bit older, who were some of the first right. I've been doing campaigns for 31 years. I was always, when I got into that room, a little intimidated felt my vulnerabilities, but didn't have anybody to ask about it. And these issues have been around a long time. So tell me how you go from wanting to perform, to joining NPR and helping launch Latino USA nearly 20 years ago. Take us back to that moment in time and how did Latino USA come to be?


Maria Hinojosa:
Yeah, so it was, get ready for it, a political battle. It was a political battle. Okay. So you have to... Again, if you go back to 1968 and everything that happened in the United States, right? Part of what the conversation like it is now, was about media representation. So the 1970s really were about demands. I mean, people don't realize that Latinos and Latinas, we were on the front lines of pushing for this and for example, in New York, Latinos and Latinas, radicals, Puerto Ricans, many of them from the... some of them from the Young Lords took over, that was part of the ethos where this notion of demands that we have from the journalism and media around us to do better. Sounds familiar? It's just like, wow. So when I get to public radio now as... Because I started as a production assistant in 1985 and frankly I'm quite disappointed with how things... It wasn't moving fast enough for me.
 

Because when you're young, a year is an eternity, I was like, "I need stuff". So that's when I make a decision that I want to be a reporter. I want to be a correspondent. I am not going to produce for somebody else. I'm going to find my voice and do this. And five years later, finally I'm hired by NPR. And the reason why is because of someone from... I guess Maria is originally from Northern California, Oakland. Maria Emilia Martin is the instigator of the radical Latina in public media who goes with members of Congress. Congress members, Devon Torres from California back then was one. And it was like, the demand was, why is the corporation for public broadcasting, getting money from taxpayers and funding NPR and NPR is not delivering on giving Latinos and Latinas visibility. That's essentially one of the reasons why I'm hired as the first Latina reporter at NPR, even though very quickly, it's like, oh, you're not just going to report on Latino issues. You're a good reporter. You're a badass reporter. You're going to report on everything and you're a Latina and isn't that great.
 

And Latino USA is created two years later. Again because of Maria Emilia Martin pushing again, this time the Ford Foundation, the university of Texas at Austin, [foreign language], to basically say it's still not good enough. We have to do our own. We're going to create our own version of all things considered. And that is where Latino USA is born. And honestly, Chuck, everybody was like, "Oh, how cute it'll last like a year, it'll last two years it'll last three years". And then we were on for five years and then we were on for 10.
 

And then what happened was, we just never stopped. The powers at B kind of were like, eh, at different times in different to us or interested in us, but we never disappeared. Like we were always there. We... And, and then in 2010 is when I take over Latino USA and I bring the production under Futuro media. And then I think it was simply... Because prior to that, I was just the anchor, I was not producing the show. And the show just needed a lot of (TLC) and we gave it to it. And here we are, almost 30 years later. Yeah. In 2023, we will be 30 years on the air.
 

Chuck Rocha:
When you got put in that position of power, I'm curious, how did you change the show as far as the folks behind the scenes? Did you... Were you intentional about giving Latinos, Latinas, behind the camera producers, assistant producers? Do you get a say so in that?


Maria Hinojosa:
Oh yeah. So, so the reason why I create Futuro media, is because I'm like, "I want to create my own newsroom. I am going to"... Well, I didn't have a job straight up. Okay. That's the truth. So the job now on PBS that was gone, 60 Minutes, was like, "Can you come back when one of these old white guys gets sick or dies?". And I was like, "What?", because that was my dream job. And I suddenly I was up against the wall and I could not as an immigrant go on unemployment, which is silly I should have. But instead I was like, "Okay, well I've learned how to raise a little bit of money. I'm I'm going to figure this out". And I create Futuro media as a nonprofit because I understood raising money from foundations. And I understood journalism as, as a public good as a service, not to make money.
 

And so really it's at that point when I'm like the jewel in the crown is Latino USA and I'm going to take it over from the university of Texas at Austin, KUT, the center for Mexican American studies. And I'm going to, as it were, bring it to New York. But the idea behind Futuro of which Latino USA was now a part of, was to create the newsroom that I always wanted.


Speaker 5:
We tell stories and report in depth on issues, often overlooked in the media.


Speaker 6:
No Islamophobia in our country. We're going to fight back.


Speaker 5:
I'm going to act as if I'm documented, I'm going to speak as if I was documented [crosstalk]


Maria Hinojosa:
A newsroom where representation was just organic because there was the like, "What do you mean you can't find journalists of color or women journalists? Or what are you talking about? Like they're everywhere". Today we were having a meeting Chuck about a project that's called the We Imagine Us project. It's a whole project about reimagining the future. And I'm looking at my team I'm like, "Look at these people [inaudible]". So it's like class diversity, it's racial diversity, it's religious, it's ethnic, it's everything. And that's what I wanted in our newsroom. It was very intentional. Now it's like, we're the littlest huge company or we're huge little company because we're having a pretty big impact but we're still relatively small. Even though for me, Chuck, the fact that we have like [foreign language] employees, I'm just like, [foreign language] but here we are. And it's because I think we're authentic that we have this success. That's why I think it's going so good.


Chuck Rocha:
I couldn't agree more. I mean, there's just so much comparable with me and you and our journeys. And I feel like we have aligned so much. You know, my little consulting firm is 100% Latino owned and operated. And over the years I feel like that's, what's made us better at campaigning. Like it's made you better at journalism, having those diverse voices there, empowering those folks. And when people come to me and they're like, "Chuck, why is solidarity? And why are y'all so good at mobilizing?". I'm like, "Cause Latinos are running this joint". So going back to the journalism piece and you covering stories with your company and with your career that most people don't cover and I could list a million of those. Now I'm going to put you on the spot. What are the ones that have stuck with you that you remember? Like the ones that moved you the most, knowing that you've covered one moving topic after another.
 

Maria Hinojosa:
Bro, I got to say that's really hard. I can just tell you that right now, for example, I just returned from a reporting trip in the field to central Mississippi. And so I... I'm kind of still deep in that space, which is a part of the country that most people think of only as black and white. And it is not that. That even people in Jackson when these are communities all around them. They're just like, "Well wait, Latinos where?" And it's like, oh my God, they're everywhere in the state of Mississippi. So right now [foreign language] thinking about what's happening in these places. Mostly because they are not going anywhere. So if you think of Mississippi as a place that has really put like the hatred full on with laws, with attitudes, with the history of oppression of black people now being used to oppress, brown and Spanish speaking and indigenous language speaking people, all of that and they're still... They love Mississippi and they are not going anywhere. So right now I'm thinking a lot about that.


Chuck Rocha:
I want to make sure that you know that I appreciate your visit to Mississippi and that I felt seen as a little Mexican boy who grew up in a trailer house with a 15 year old mother. I think you're part about being seen and seeing those stories told touch me and touch me immensely when I saw your reporting about that, it brought back a lot of memories, good and bad. But also a recent thing that you've been involved in that I also felt seen in that I want to talk about, which was the first podcast series that I really ever listened to.
 

And it was an interview with Suave. And I should tell everybody that my favorite interview guest of hers all time has been David Luis Suave Gonzalez. He's a Latino man. He's a brother, he's a friend, he's an artist. He was also a juvenile lifer as someone who's also in the system, who has a criminal record that I talk about all the time, hearing his story and about your friendship with him and Suave, the podcast really moved me. When did you realize that the story of Suave needed to be told,


Maria Hinojosa:
Oh wow. So you know, you can got to go way back, right? I mean, I'm a young journalist at NPR. Recently married. I was doing some reporting check that was getting attention because again, I was speaking a lot to young men of color who were invisible from the national media. And so I was telling some of these stories and I get invited to go to this prison. Graterford prison in Pennsylvania. It's 1983. And I meet this kid named Suave. Who's basically like, "I'm going to be here for life. What should I do?", And I was like, "Well, if you're going to be here, become my source. Let's just stay in touch. Tell me everything I want to know". I mean, we started communicating, it's pretty hard in prison. I would send letters who knew, sometimes he would get them because he also went into solitary for long periods of time.
 

And as you know, when you're talking to somebody who's behind bars, you don't really spend a lot of your time, least I didn't. "Well, so let's talk about your case. When are you going to get out or"... Because, he was sentenced to life without parole. We're not going to talk about the case or what you're doing because it would have to have been a miracle for him to get out. And I was as a journalist, not going to be the one who's like, "Well, you should really seek commutation or you should"... that was not my role. Then we begin to hear that the Supreme court is hearing cases about whether or not sentencing young people, juveniles, whether it is cruel and inhuman to sentence a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole i.e. life and the door is locked behind you and the key is thrown away. You will never come out.
 

And so there was... The Supreme court said actually, "Yeah". That's when I said, "Oh my God, we need to start recording everything with Suave". And ultimately what you heard was years in production. And there are a lot of twists and turns. That podcast, I'd like to say to young people in general and to anybody and to journalists, to just don't ever walk away from a story because you never, never ever know. And there were many times along the way when it was like, "Oh, we can't finish this. Can't find the money. Can't find the person to produce it. We can't"... and I was like, "No, we have to keep on trying". And I just never gave up. And ultimately here we are. And I'm hoping that we are going to be able to produce Suave season too. And he's doing well.


Chuck Rocha:
But this kind of leads to a question that I can't understand, that I know makes you 10 times stronger than me is that when you listen to the stories that you tell and I'm a storyteller like you in a different way. So I tell a story to the people to get them to vote for some candidate or fight back against what immigration policies doing this, or to try to get healthcare. Like I'm a narrator to create a story. But my stories aren't pulling at my emotions every day, whether it's Suave, it's the little girl in the airport. It's the things that you talk about in the book like how Maria and... I got to know this and I don't mean to get too personal, but how do you walk away from these emotional things that you throw yourself into and then have a real life?


Maria Hinojosa:
Well, if I hadn't just taken a deep breath, I'd actually be in tears right now, weeping in answer to your question, but I'm holding back because I don't want to do that. I'm really like, "No, don't do that right now", because today was one of those days, actually, Chuck, I mean a lot is going on. Obviously there are things I cannot reveal. All of it has to do with reporting and stories that I'm covering and people that I know or that I'm getting ready to go and report. I'm getting ready to go to the border in Arizona to see the desert for myself and the attempts to save people simply by giving them water. And somehow, this government spends billions of dollars to prevent people from having water. And they've been doing that for decades. I'm getting ready to do that.
 

And so... Really hard. And so in a morning like this, I'm like, "Okay, well", and I did, I actually cried a little bit and I meditate. That's what I do. I meditate, I got... right now I'm doing a lot of music meditation. Sometimes I'm doing intense mantra meditation. Sometimes I'm doing talk meditation, walk meditation. But you know, so then I just got into my space because I was like, "I can't do this. I have to work today". And then I work out, this is the other thing that I do is, and I just started working out again after having been in the field and traveling. And so I'm having to regain my strength and I was out boxing the last two mornings this morning, I was doing some weightlifting and, and I was like, people ask me, "What are you thinking about when you're doing"... And I'm just like, "That's why I do it" because I don't think about shit. I don't think about anything.
 

It's the only time when I'm just like... I'm thinking about it, I'm sweating. I'm thinking about my form. I'm thinking about, "Can I make it through these, 20 reps? Why is this so hard?". And that's how I've been able, save my life. I have an incredible family that also keeps me grounded. Sometimes it's hard for them. It's hard for me to hear when they're like, "You need to stop. We are here. We need you". This is the long haul that we're... This is not going to get any easier. It's getting uglier and uglier and more intense because it's more sinister because of the fact that we are all digitally connected. So that's our liberation and our torture.


Chuck Rocha:
I think you're so right. And I did want to mention the working out and I've only got one more question left. The working out with your, what I would like to call, your tribe if I may. Who I see you working out with and the reason I do it is I tell people, I get my best thinking done in the morning. Cause people aren't pulling at me. I'm not engulfed by news of bad things happening around me and I'm in my space. So I respect what you're saying. I love it. I love it. You know, of course the name of the podcast is called Nuestro. So what does new you mean to you, Maria?
 

Maria Hinojosa:
It's interesting that you would preface that question with talking about my tribe, because this is a group of people who I did not know before the pandemic. And we all ended up meeting because of the pandemic in the park, working out together, boxing and lifting and doing crazy stuff. And of course, as you know, if you watch me dancing, doing a lot of dancing at seven o'clock in the morning in Harlem, in the rain, in the cold, in the sun, in the snow, in the freezing. We're out there acting crazy. And so not everyone in that group is Latino or Latina. It so happens that many of us are immigrants. The trainer is [foreign language], he's from Senegal. One of my partners there is a German born, but married [foreign language] so she speaks Spanish. Really different backgrounds, African immigrant women and white women and all, kind of an intense group. We are right in the middle of Morningside park.
 

And so it is a place where many workers go up and down this to errors to get to their jobs. And so I see many of [foreign language] who may be Mexican Ecuadorian, [foreign language] and they watch us and they think we're kind of cool. And the other morning, because I had just come back from Mississippi, were Astrea the trans activist from Georgia led everybody on a chant at an event where she was [foreign language], I'm a journalist so I don't usually lead people in chants. I happened to that morning. It was my first morning back from Mississippi.
 

And I was just like "[foreign language 00:36:32]", and they all kind of, they looked down and they were like "[foreign language 00:36:35]" like what? You know? So that's nuestro too, is just kind of using our voices, saying what we want. Nuestro is also like dancing our dances in the middle of that, doing [foreign language] at that hour so that everybody can see. That's what nuestro is. Is [foreign language] that doesn't have borders. [foreign language] That's what nuestro means to me.


Chuck Rocha:
Maria Hinojosa is our sister. She's our friend and she is Nuestro. Thank you so much for being here.


Maria Hinojosa:
Oh, thank you, Chuck. And thank you for all you do. And I was really... I love this interview. Thank you so much. I appreciate it very much.


Chuck Rocha:
To check out Maria's work, including the Suave podcast we talked about earlier, please head over to our show notes. Nuestro is a production of solidarity strategies. Gabrielle Horton is our executive producer. Cynthia Pimentel is our lead producer. And Kevin Luu is our sound engineer. Our theme music is composed by Joel Rodriguez. If you want to hear more episodes like this, don't forget to subscribe to our podcast. It's going to be a new episode every week and most important, don't forget to follow me @Chuck Rocha on the Twitters. My staff would be so upset if I don't tell you about the social medias and the Twitters and my mama is on Facebook. So I'm only going to give you the Twitters account. Adios and until next week.