Maria Hinojosa, the recipient of numerous awards for her journalism, introduced the film by explaining that she has always tried to give a voice to the voiceless, making her known as a journalist with an agenda, which no journalist wants because that means they're compromised.
(Hinojosa and I)
One of the things Hinojosa tries to do with her new show is to document the lives of the voiceless, beginning with a small town in Georgia with a drastically changing demographic due to an influx of immigrants. Something Hinojosa and her producers really tried to avoid in the documentary was to not paint the people in the film with a broad brush--Hinojosa chose people who did not fit into stereotypes or present too flat a portrayal of perspective, e.g. a tea party city council person was "sisters" with a refugee who would vote for President Obama.
(Hinojosa during Q&A)
Citizenship became an issue for discussion following the screening--Hinojosa responded to one question by referring to an '86 path to citizenship that Ronald Reagan instituted that no longer exists today. Hinojosa explained that many educated Americans have asked her why undocumented people don't just go get their papers, to which she has had to explain that no path to becoming documented exists. She asked the rhetorical question, "If no one's going anywhere--how do we move forward?"
Someone asked about self-segregation and isolation, to which Hinojosa said she was under the impression that these self-selecting groups would be a minority of sorts. The idea of segregation reminded her of interviewing Joe Arpaio--he seems to isolate himself by yelling all of the time--he excused himself by saying that the jail was loud, but Hinojosa couldn't help wonder, 'but why are you yelling at me?'
Because of our context of Arizona and laws like SB 1070, the issue of illegality continued as a topic of the Q&A. A member of the audience asked Hinojosa to reprise what she had said in an interview about the label of "illegal."
Hinojosa explained that she chooses not to use "illegal" and that she learned from a holocaust survivor that 'no human is illegal' and that the use of illegal is the kind of discourse that was used to justify the holocaust.
With regard to breaking down a monolithic "white" America, Hinojosa mentioned the term the "creative class"--a group who identifies with openess and recognizes differences within white communities.
She addressed the idea of fear keeping people apart by saying that she learned from her Dominican husband how to "eat fear" and not live with it, and push through and past it.
See the trailer for "American By the Numbers":
Trailer "America By The Numbers: Clarkston Georgia" from The Futuro Media Group on Vimeo.
Visit the Futuro Media Group
Maria Hinojosa's Frontline "Lost in Detention"
Watch Lost in Detention on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.