Yesterday afternoon in Mexico City, Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa was confirmed dead, the victim of two gunshot wounds, according to reports. Espinosa’s death was one of five deaths: reports indicated that three women who were in the same apartment as Espinosa also died, while the fourth woman who died was a domestic worker. Reports also said that Espinosa had fled his home state of Veracruz, and that he was considered missing, according to groups who push for greater free speech in Mexico.
Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists Américas tweeted that at least 11 journalists have been murdered in Veracruz since 2011, with three others gone missing. In addition, the main Committee to Protect Journalists site has a list of 80 journalists and media workers who have been killed in Mexico (34 of the 80 killed with “a motive confirmed”) since 1992. Espinosa would be 81, if his name were to be added to the CPJ list. Earlier this year, according to the BBC, “the National Commission on Human Rights said 97 journalists had been killed in Mexico in connection with their work since 2010.”
News of Espinosa’s death has led to #JusticiaParaRubén (#JusticeForRuben), a hashtag that is quickly trending on Twitter in Mexico City and Mexico this afternoon.
This morning on Up with Steve Kornacki, Maria Hinojosa discussed the 2016 presidential race with the panel. Besides saying that the next election could be a defining moment for U.S. Latino voters (“The Latino vote can be energized”), Maria discussed Jeb Bush’s candidacy as well as pointing out an issue few are discussing in the political media: Hillary Clinton’s current strategy with the U.S. Latino electorate and whether the current Democratic front-runner has had a “watershed moment” with a group estimated to be about 8% of the nation’s voters. Here is the full clip (about seven minutes long):
What do you think of what Maria had to say? Tweet me @julito77 with your thoughts.
In this Latino USA episode: life before, during and after prison. We meet a group of lifers trying to slow down the school-to-prison pipeline. We hear the story of Suave (SWAH-vey), who has gone from illiteracy and a life sentence, to finding meaning behind organizing behind bars. We learn about the trouble former inmates have re-entering society, and what they can do to succeed. Also, how one inmate has turned skills learned in prison into his business. And, how freedom can surprise you.
Luis G., also known as Suave (SWAH-vey), was only 17 when he was charged with first degree murder. He was sentenced to life without parole and has been incarcerated for 27 years. In prison he was reckless, angry and frequently cited as a problem by authorities–a charge that landed him in solitary confinement and ultimately forced him to transfer prisons. All of that changed when he met Maria Hinojosa, who unknowingly inspired him to get a proper education, start reading and focus his life on helping others.
The U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s incarcerated (ACLU). Of those who are incarcerated, between 60,000 and 70,000 are juveniles. Suave, as part of a small group of dedicated men all serving life sentences in Graterford state prison in Pennsylvania, is now committed to fighting those numbers. He and his friends have set up initiatives like a fully inmate-funded college scholarship called Education Over Incarceration and a fatherhood workshop called FACT (Fathers and Children Together) that aims to reconnect incarcerated fathers with their children.
Maria Hinojosa and producer Michael Simon Johnson visited Suave at Graterford to find out how he turned his life around, and how he and his fellow lifers have found meaning in the work they do every day.
Prison life is hard enough, but getting out and readjusting to civilian life presents its own set of challenges. There to help the formerly incarcerated who need housing, employment and plain old positivity is Exodus, a transitional community center located in East Harlem, New York City. In this audio postcard, we visit Exodus to find out what re-entry back into society sounds like.
Rossana Rosado is the Chair of New York State’s Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration. A former journalist and editor-in-chief of El Diario La Prensa, Rosado has been covering the issue of re-entry for years. She talks to Maria Hinojosa about the challenges and issues pertaining not only to former inmates but also the communities that grapple with how to integrate them.
Photo by Antonia Cereijido
Rossana Rosado has been a dominant force in New York media for 27 years. Using her journalism degree from Pace University, she started as a City Hall reporter at El Diario. She left the newspaper to join WPIX, Inc. as a Producer of Public Affairs programming. She later became the station’s Public Service Director, responsible for the creation and placement of hundreds of public service announcements on the air. Ms. Rosado won an Emmy in 1992 for the production of a series of public service announcements featuring organizations which helped children.
In college, Bronx native Ralphy Dominguez was a straight-A student, a natural leathersmith and a drug kingpin. His knack for business led to a $2 million cocaine ring that covered most of the Northeast, and ultimately ended in a three-year stint at a federal prison. While serving time, Ralphy honed his skills and set his sights on starting a fine leather business, Pen & Pistol. We hear from Ralphy in his own words as he recounts his story and the difficulties and rewards of going straight.
So as a little girl growing up in Chicago, on the South Side, the television was on all the time.
The news was always on in our home.
And the radio was on all the time, too. In fact, if you look really closely, you’ll see my brother Jorge, carrying a little toy radio complete with a little antenna.
We were a Mexican immigrant family growing up in Chicago in the middle of the Civil Rights era.
My dad was a medical doctor devoted to researching the inner ear, but he was a news junkie. He spoke English with a thick Mexican accent, but he watched Meet the Press every Sunday, he read TIME magazine religiously and watched The Today Show.
As a little girl, I understood the importance of journalism, reporting and media. But I never saw myself there. My stories didn’t appear. We were invisible. I was invisible from the media narrative. No one in the reporting that I saw I saw looked like me, looked like my family. So I began to think that maybe somehow my life —my story— was less valuable, less important.
Then one day I saw Martin Luther King speaking. And it was this person who looked the most unlike me who made me believe that maybe one day, yes, I could be a part of the fabric of this country.
I didn’t recognize this invisibility. I just lived it. I didn’t understand it. And I came to see myself and feel myself as “the other.”
Well, I moved to New York to go to college. And if you look really closely, that’s me trying to rock a Chicana punkish thing going on there. Great hair, huh?
I formed a radio show at my university called Nueva canción y demás.
And we were documenting what really was a renaissance of Latinos and Latin Americans in New York.
Artists, intellectuals, political refugees from South America, from the Caribbean, were coming into New York City, and we were documenting that on my radio show.
We would hang out in art galleries in SoHo until late and then we’d go to the Polish-Ukrainian restaurant that was open 24 hours—and we’d be gathering around a table speaking excitedly in Spanish about Nietzsche and Kant and existentialism. And the white bohemians would be looking at us like, “What are they yelling about? And could they just like be quiet?”
But I was living and experiencing stories that I wasn’t seeing anywhere on the media. And I began to believe that this life that I was leading in New York—this international, multiculti, truly diverse, Latin American, Latino and urban experience was really just an extension of the great American experience.
And I began to believe that I was seeing the earliest glimpses of The American Future.
I became a journalist. And, yeah, I was the first Latina in many newsrooms.
So I felt like a fish out of water and I did not get the jokes.
But I would force myself to raise my hand at editorial meetings because I understood that this perspective that I had should be included in the media narrative. It wasn’t that what I was feeling or thinking was better or worse—it was just different and it needed to be included.
I chose to do stories where other reporters wouldn’t go. And I felt a responsibility to do that.
In fact, the black journalists were called “un-American” and were told they were biased.
But were they biased or were they simply speaking the truth?
Who got to decide that? That it wasn’t news?
Who was in those newsrooms?
It’s an important question.
During World War II, innocent Americans were imprisoned. They were Japanese Americans. There may not have been bars in the prison but they were in prison, and yet in newsrooms it was decided that this would be called an “internment.”
Who made that decision so that it would be more palatable for the rest of us?
So what did I do? I formed my own newsroom.
I created the Futuro Media Group, based in Harlem, USA. And I hired a team committed to diversity, where we think critically about all these issues and together we decide the stories that we’re going to tell and how we’re going to tell them.
So on my radio show Latino USAon NPR and on our television series America By the Numberson PBS, we don’t approach this massive demographic change that we’re experiencing like something that needs to be feared—like, oh my God, what’s happening? No, we look at it as something that needs to be acknowledged and that needs to be reported on critically through lenses of power, race, inequality, immigration… and we believe that the reporting we do, this visibility that we give, is helping people navigate an America that is becoming increasingly complex and increasingly diverse.
And in our newsroom we do things a little differently because we can.
So we don’t use the term “minority,” because I have never used that term to describe myself to my family, to my children—and we don’t use the term “illegal” when describing an immigrant.
So is that a bias, or are we removing one and simply telling the truth?
For our television series, America by the Numbers, we went to Clarkston, Georgia, which is just 10 minutes south of Atlanta. It is one of the most diverse square miles in the American South and could be one of the most diverse square miles in our entire country.
This is not the American South of black and white. This is the American South of Ellis Island. Immigrants and refugees streaming into Clarkston. Now what’s happened to Clarkston is fascinating. In 30 years, Clarkston, which used to be almost 90 percent white, is now less than one fifth white.
But when we went there, the city council was all white. So the new citizens were invisible. We were there to do reporting about what these new citizens feel about participating in American politics —voting, the Constitution— and we talked animatedly about this. Because that was my path, too: from immigrant to citizen.
And yet only one former refugee served on city council. So they were essentially invisible from the political power structure.
But when we went back two years later, something extraordinary had happened. For the first time ever, in one year, three former refugees had decided to run for office in the City Council. And they told us that in part what happened was that they saw themselves on the big screen of public television, talking about their American experience —talking about participating, talking about the Constitution— no one had ever shown them this narrative of their American lives and they saw it on television, and they became inspired by themselves.
They believed what they were saying. They believed their own power, and then decided to become visible in their own government. We documented the first-ever Bhutanese American to ever run for anything in the United States of America. Who knows, his son who is an American citizen, may be President. It’s possible.
So you can imagine that for me as a journalist, when I found this news, it was incredible. The fact that we had helped to inspire democracy? I mean, that’s amazing.
And so when I think back about that little girl in Chicago—if I was to draw myself as a cartoon character, I would be shedding off my cloak of invisibility and putting on my superpowers of visibility and owning my voice and owning my power.
And the thought that I was able to share this, with the new citizens of Clarkston and help them go from invisible to visible, was an amazing moment in my life as a journalist.
So, who gets to tell the story matters.
We look back now in our country —oftentimes in horror— and we think, “Massacring the Native American people? Lynching innocent African Americans? Imprisoning innocent Japanese Americans? Treating Civil Rights protesters like they were animals?”
And so I wonder whether or not, we’ll think back, look back to this day and people will say, “They were holding women, children, toddlers and babies in detention because of their immigration status? They were doing that then?”
And who was telling those stories?
Or why weren’t those stories being told?
Who was in those newsrooms?
Well, we know that at Futuro Media we are telling those stories and making them visible.
I’m also a professor and so I tell my students, who are the descendants of immigrants or are immigrants themselves, that they should now see themselves as if they are the new pilgrims —the new pioneers— and that this is the way that they’ll be written about in the history books. Not like the descendants of some illegal people. And we all want them to feel visible and included in this country —and not like “the other”— because they are our future. We know that by the numbers.
So when I think back to that little girl feeling invisible, searching for signs of life (you know, when you had to turn the channels like this or turn the radio dial like this, I know all young people are going to be like, “what? we’re going to figure that out”), I was doing that all the time—looking for signs of life that looked like me in American journalism. And it wasn’t a good feeling. Unseen. Unheard.
And so I spoke up.
And in the face of an America that was —frankly— perfectly content with me remaining invisible, I spoke up even louder.
And now I point my microphone at voices unheard and narratives untold, and together we tell the stories of the new America that’s visible.
You want to know why I still love Twitter? The answer is simple: because some of the best digital ideas pop up in a place this is so often misunderstood and underestimated. Take the case of @ChicanoPlanner, who earlier today tweeted this to our @LatinoUSA account:
As you might imagine, I got a bit giddy when I saw the tweet. I mean, getting an unsolicited fan video via Twitter featuring one of our tracks, with gorgeous summer images of Chicago as the backdrop? These types of videos don’t come in every day, so I tweeted @ChicanoPlanner to see if he would email me the actual file. Of course, we would credit him.
He happily did, and told me the following via email: “This is what I listen to on my commute, keep up the great work!”
This is how I giddy I got. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea’s quaint creativity, so much so that if anyone else wants to send a fan video our way showing how YOU listen to Latino USA, you can tweet me @julito77 and tag @LatinoUSA.
By the way, the audio @ChicanoPlanner used for his fan video is the introduction to a June segment produced by Antonia Cereijido about Operation Pedro Pan. Give it a full listen here:
Earlier today, our team received the official news that the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) had honored Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA with a Presidential Award of Excellence for our Peabody Award-winning show, “Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras.”
NAHJ will be presenting the award to us this September 20 in Orlando, and we will have a more formal press release very soon, but I had to start sharing the news about the award, since the team is thrilled about the announcement. Also, many of you are already sending us great vibes on Facebook and Twitter.
Luis Ruuska told us the following on Facebook: “Congratulations, you all have ALWAYS been ahead of your time bringing us stories we can’t get anywhere else. The Latino population is only going to get bigger in the coming years and other media organizations are going to try to ride that wave, but nobody will EVER bring us content like you do!”
This afternoon, when I asked Maria for her reaction about the NAHJ news, this is what she told me:
“As the foremost Latino voice in public media and the longest running Latino-focused program in the history of U.S. radio, our entire Latino USA team is truly honored by this recognition from our peers. NAHJ helped me become the storyteller I am today. They gave me my very first Journalism award which built my confidence at a crucial moment. I will never forget that validation. I am also thrilled to be mentoring new voices that keep producing such important stories. Gracias. Thank you.”
Our team will have much more to share about the award and all the details. Stay tuned!
At the end of every Friday, after the team shares the news about yet another new podcast (subscribe here so you never miss one ever again), we always leave for the weekend thinking: Which of the stories from our newest show will people like the best? Since we are a weekend show, part of my job is to check out what our community is saying so that when the team meets again on Monday, I share the answers to that question.
Having reviewed all your tweets, likes, pageviews, shares, comments, listens and downloads (seriously, I do look at them all!), I can now reveal the three most popular segments from our July 24 Beauty podcast. To make this all dramatic, let’s start off with this drum segment. (The things I find online.)
Ok, here are the three top stories this week, in order:
This piece, produced by Julia Alsop, features Jose Gutierez of the House of Xtrvaganza.
…one profile accused us of “columbusing” the story. For the record, our piece did explore that angle, particularly when Madonna made “Vogue” popular 25 years ago and many felt she was the latest example of cultural appropriation. Still, in the interest of including critiques of our shows, I will share the tweet:
As a digital reporter, part of the job these days is to let your followers and friends know about the stories you produce. Congrats to Megan for the amazing Twitter support she is getting for her very powerful piece.
#1: Teen Study Reveals Dangerous Chemicals In Cosmetics
Yet of all the stories our team produced this week, this one by California Endowment reporting fellow Vanessa Rancaño was the most popular:
I can’t give you a specific reason as to why this segment was our top story for this weekend’s podcast, but I would think that there is a history of activism for this cause, and you noticed that. As a few of you on Twitter told us:
@LatinoUSA I've been saying for quite sometime, the @US_FDA has failed to protect the American people & lobbyists control the policymakers
That’s all for now. If you ever have any comments about our show, tweet me @julito77 or tweet the show @LatinoUSA. I promise: we read all your tweets! Because if we didn’t, I would haven’t been able to share this gem we received today:
I came for the Bodega snacks and stayed for the Latino hip-hop ~ From a part time to full time listener – thanks @LatinoUSA !
By now, you know the deal: on Friday, our team launches a podcast. On Monday, we create a Spotify playlist of the songs we featured in the Friday podcast (along with videos of the songs not on Spotify). Here is this week’s music:
Here is a song from Rando Camasta that we also featured.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Latino USA explores what beauty is. We hear from makeup tutorial YouTube stars, Latina models in Kansas City and a trans man who shares his feelings on hair.
Not surprisingly, YouTube is a very popular place to discuss beauty. In one video, a YouTube beauty guru will be celebrating their imperfections and flaws in the hopes of empowering their subscribers. In another, they will be criticizing themselves for not wearing makeup and showing those flaws. Maria Hinojosa and Latino USA intern Pauly Denetclaw talk about makeup, beauty gurus and YouTube.
Mexican American Nicholas Segura owns Somos, a talent agency based in Kansas City, that represents ethnic and multilingual talent. At Somos Agency, the perceptions of beauty are questioned and challenged every day, presenting models that are “racially ambiguous.”