Hinojosa Award winning CNN journalist lectures in Goshen

By: Ryan Miller
Public Relations Office • Goshen College

We are all the other now,’ CNN and NPR correspondent tells GC audience; Hinojosa pushes diversity and understanding in Yoder lecture Jan. 29

GOSHEN, Ind. - Maria Hinojosa never thought she would fear another because of cultural differences since all of us, in some ways, are different. But in the aftermath of Sept. 11, she found herself thinking twice about her first impressions of others.

Speaking before more than 350 people during Goshen College’s Yoder Public Affairs Lecture Series Jan. 29, the CNN correspondent and National Public Radio host said this era, post-Sept. 11, is a critical time to examine the way we as a country approach those from different backgrounds. Each of us, she said, must examine ourselves and realize that all communities, even those of a single ethnic group or culture, are rife with differences, but it takes an effort to be truly multicultural.

Multiculturalism is “to be able to see yourself in the person who is the most unlike you,” said Hinojosa in her afternoon address, quoting Mexican-American poet Sandra Cisneros. “How we treat the person who is least like us is how, ultimately, we will move forward as a country. S (And) we have got to learn how to talk, or else all there will be is silence, and sadness.”

The reporter did her part to begin dialogue, retelling her personal Sept. 11 story, and touching hearts in the audience with stories of so many others from so many backgrounds affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center -the Muslim widow considering how her faith can be so different than the beliefs of the terrorists. Or the Nicaraguan who barely escaped the WTC inferno and could not believe that he, a man simply going to work, was under attack.

“We cannot say we are a unified country just yet until we deal with what these stories bring up,” Hinojosa referring to the unity of the multicultural people who died in the towers and the cross-cultural bonds of support found during and since that turbulence. She admitted to feeling disturbed by her own first tendency to look at Arabs as “others,” since Sept. 11 - being tainted by the terrorists’ hatred - but said she has never thought to fear difference.

“How can I fear what I am?” she said. “Each of us, of ourselves, are already multicultural beings. So how can we fear who we are?”

Hinojosa challenged Goshen residents to talk about how they respond to the Maple City’s new faces. “Is it unusual? That, somehow, they don’t belong here?” she asked. “There is nowhere to go where there are no differences, because, ultimately, we are only trying to escape from ourselves.”

Change, she said, involved more than annual celebrations for eating ethnic food and dancing ethnic dances. It involves integrating different cultures into all parts of society and changing the mindsets of those in power.

“It’s not about changing the size of the pie slice that you’re going to get. It’s about changing the nature of the pie,” she said. “It is about shifting power, but shifting power does not happen overnight,and no one gives up power.”

Hinojosa also spoke at the annual meeting of LaCasa of Goshen Inc. in the afternoon; Goshen College, LaCasa and WVPE-FM sponsored her visit.

Hinojosa discovered a family connection to the college after agreeing to speak. Her uncle, Octavio Romero ‘52, told her stories about the town’s hesitancy and hostility to outsiders - the “others.” Hinojosa said today’s Goshen, like today’s United States, is a different place.

“It is up to us to make each ‘other’ part of each other in what we find in a common humanity,” she concluded. “So let me know how it goes in Goshen.”

Besides her work at CNN, Hinojosa anchors Latino USA, a weekly National Public Radio program that airs on the college’s radio station WGCS, 91.1 FM, each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and on WVPE, 88.1 FM, each Sunday at 6:30 a.m. She previously hosted Visiones, a public affair talk show on WNBC-TV in New York and was an NPR general assignment correspondent. She produced CBS’s We Stand with Walter Cronkite, The Osgood Files, CBS This Morning and Newsbreak. She has written two books: “Crew: Gang Members Talk to Maria Hinojosa”; and “Raising Raul: Adventures in Raising Myself and My Son.”

Hinojosa received the Ruben Salazar Award, which recognizes out-standing journalists, from the National Council of La Raza the same year Working Mother magazine named her one of the 25 most influential working mothers in America.

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Juan Rodríguez found Baby Jesus in the “Rosca de Reyes” on January 6th at Saint Estephan Catholic Church of South Bend.