Latina keynote speaker addresses Latino media representation, treatment of immigrants

Nicole Towne

Maria Hinojosa, Latina journalist and founder of the Futuro Media Group, spoke at the Lory Student Center Theater as part of the 16th Annual Diversity Symposium Tuesday night.

The keynote speech, sponsored by Ram Events, discussed the political climate, Latino representation in the media, treatment of immigrants and various correlating topics.

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“We are excited to have Maria Hinojosa come and speak about the Latinx population and the changing demographics in the U.S.,” wrote Richard Guzman, Vice President for Diversity Coordinator, in an email to the Collegian. “It’s timely in the state of Colorado, as well as in the current political climate for our election season.”

In reference to the growing Latino population, Hinojosa said that the country is getting more diverse.

Hinojosa said that with increasing change, comes increases in fear. Hinojosa addressed that some Americans are uncomfortable with the prospect of minorities becoming majorities.

“I don’t want to dismiss people’s fear of change,” Hinojosa said. “I need to understand it. In fact, it is my job as an American journalist to understand people’s difference of opinions and try to understand what is moving them. I have to do that in a way that is fair, that is curious and that is not about convincing anyone of anything.”

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Maria Hinojosa speaks at the Diversity Symposium. Photo credit: Tony Villalobos May

Hinojosa brought up concerns about diversity in news media and life for Latino Americans and immigrants.

“Newsrooms are less diverse now then they were 25 years ago,” Hinojosa said.

Not only are news organizations lacking diversity in their employee make-up, they are lacking diversity in their content, Hinojosa said. She said because of this, news organizations such as Futuro Media group, a non-profit organization which serves to tell stories with a focus on diversity, are seeking out and reporting on stories which otherwise would not receive coverage.

“We know that we are in fact a part of American History and we are not going to allow our stories and our narratives to be erased,” Hinojosa said.

She also discussed concerns for Latina adolescents and cited that Latina teens have the highest rate of attempted suicide.

“We know in high schools today there are walls being built,” Hinojosa said.

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She said these metaphorical walls, much like the physical walls presidential nominee Donald Trump is advocating for, are pushing people out and promoting a culture of inclusion and isolation.

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Maria Hinojosa speaks at the Diversity Symposium Sept. 20. "We know in high schools today there are walls being built," Hinojosa said. Photo credit: Tony Villalobos May

People are immediately put in rooms with the nickname la hielera, Spanish for icebox, Hinojosa said.

“What does it mean to us that in our country today that’s how people are being held, that there are people being held in our country who don’t know why they are being held, who have not been given any due process,” Hinojosa said. “All those basic things of due process are being denied daily in our country.”

For some students, such as freshman journalism major Katie Marshall, Hinojosa’s presentation brought engagement and understanding.

“She made it really relatable and portrayed it in a really interesting way,” Marshall said. “I learned a lot from it and I think a lot of people can learn a lot from it.”

Towards the end of her keynote speech, Hinojosa reminded her audience of the importance of common human experiences.

“In the end, you like I just want to be inspired by humanity,” Hinojosa said. “You don’t want to be seen as the ‘other’ or different. We want to see ourselves in each other.”

Hinojosa ended her presentation with a call to action. She encouraged students to be open about diversity and play an active role in this year’s presidential election.

“I ask you in 2016 to own the discomfort,” Hinojosa said. “Own it…Talk about it. Engage in it. Vote. No matter what vote.”

Collegian reporter Nicole Town can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @nicole_towne21.