ASHEVILLE – Throughout her life, Maria Hinojosa has been known by many names.
Journalist, mom, Emmy winner, first Latina correspondent for NPR and CNN, groundbreaker, American, professor. And now, she said, “animal.”
Hinojosa took on the epithet that President Donald Trump made last week in reference to undocumented Mexican immigrants during her keynote to the 14th annual Community Foundation of WNC’s Power of the Purse luncheon Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza, attended by a mostly female crowd of nearly 1,000.
Hinojosa, a Mexican immigrant, took on the derogatory comment in the no-nonsense style for which one of the world’s top female journalists is known, and addressed other uncomfortable topics including immigration and discrimination, as well as the role of media and the power of women.
“I will not allow this administration or any administration (to use this term),” Hinojosa said, adding that immigrants, especially those from the Spanish-speaking world, have been subject to discrimination for decades, building up to a fever pitch of current anti-immigration sentiment, one that is palpable in North Carolina.
“I have no party. This is a pox on both of your houses. I’m a journalist. I’m going to criticize everyone and I’m going to hold everybody to account,” she said.
“The president, who has the capacity to influence laws and policies is referring to us as animals. There is an attempt on the part of this administration to conflate MS-13 – an American made gang — with all immigrants. But it makes it easier if you’ve always referred to them as illegal.”
What a Mexican immigrant looks like
Hinojosa was born in Mexico City. She was raised in Chicago; her father, a medical researcher, brought her mother and three siblings there for a job at the University of Chicago. He was one of the group of scientists who invented the cochlear implant, she said.
She grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the midst of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the feminist movement. She attended the prestigious all-women’s Barnard College in New York City.
By Karen Chavez for CITIZEN TIMES
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