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“Anyone striving to understand and improve this country should read her story.” —Gloria Steinem, author of My Life on the Road
The Emmy Award–winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painting an unflinching portrait of a country in crisis in this memoir that is “quite simply beautiful, written in Maria Hinojosa’s honest, passionate voice” (BookPage).
Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who, for nearly thirty years, has reported on stories and communities in America that often go ignored by the mainstream media—from tales of hope in the South Bronx to the unseen victims of the War on Terror and the first detention camps in the US. Bestselling author Julia Álvarez has called her “one of the most important, respected, and beloved cultural leaders in the Latinx community.”
In Once I Was You, Maria shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today.
An urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all, this honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth.
Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú.
Veteran broadcast journalist Hinojosa discusses immigration in a defiant memoir that probes family lore, public policy, and mainstream media bias. In 1962, when Hinojosa was a baby, her family emigrated from Mexico to Chicago when her father was invited to join the faculty at the University of Chicago, but an immigration agent, misinterpreting her minor skin rash as a disease, tried to separate her from her family. Annual visits to Mexico maintained her dual Mexican-American identity, but reentry to the U.S. was dependent on a green card and emphasized how "people were and are still looking at us immigrants as aliens." As a student at Barnard College, she hosted a Latin radio show and earned an internship at NPR. Hired by "the one other Latino at the network," she helped launch Weekend Edition Saturday. In 1986, while covering the Texas sesquicentennial, she visited Harlingen, "the first immigrant detention camp I ever saw" and the nation's largest. Horrific conditions spurred her ongoing investigations which continue today. She discusses the history of immigration under presidents Clinton (while "Bill Clinton was being celebrated for eating burritos and enchiladas, the new president was also cracking down on immigration") and Obama ("In 2014, under President Barack Obama, removals' clocked in at 414,481"), details the passage of immigration legislation, and highlights the high cost of detention ("$3 billion for the 2018 fiscal year"). The result is a powerful memoir that doubles as an essential immigration primer.
First book i read (to completion) in over a decade that wasn’t medical field related. What started off as a school assignment ended as a long journey and reminder as to whom I was, and my mother is. It got pretty emotional at times, but I’m changed after reading it. Thank you.
Once I was you
Thank you Maria, I read your book line by line, I cried, I saw myself, I laughed and I learned.
A Life Changer
I pledge to be an activist against the concentration camps en Los Estados Unidos