Maria Hinojosa And Maria Garcia, On Race, Light-Skinned Privilege And Latinidad : Code Switch Maria Garcia and Maria Hinojosa are both Mexican American, both mestiza, and both relatively light-skinned. But Maria Hinojosa strongly identifies as a woman of color, whereas Maria Garcia has stopped doing so. So in this episode, we're asking: How did they arrive at such different places?

What Does It Mean To Be Latino? The 'Light-Skinned Privilege' Edition

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SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, HOST:

Hello, listeners. Before we get into this episode, we here at CODE SWITCH want some feedback from you. We want to hear from people who've been listening to us for a minute and from our new listeners over the last year or so. Help us out. You can find a short and anonymous survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey. There is also going to be a link to the survey in our episode notes. Fill that out for us. Let us know what you think of our podcast - like, what you really think. It's anonymous, and it would be a huge help. So thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: In certain Latino families, there's a broad color spectrum.

JASMINE RABO: My Dominican grandfather is Black, and my aunt, which is his daughter, has pale, white skin with freckles.

MERAJI: Maybe you're the one with pale skin and freckles.

AMBER ALVARADO: Oh, she's the white girl of the group. Or, you know, she's the white Latina.

MERAJI: How do you identify? Do you think of yourself as white, as a person of color or just Latinx?

BRANDON MOGROVEJO: It's difficult when a light-skinned Latino...

MERAJI: CODE SWITCH listener Brandon Mogrovejo wrote to us about a tense discussion he had with his wife Christina (ph) when she told them she filled out the census for their household. He had this feeling that she might have messed up because he is a lighter-skinned Latino, and that might make things confusing for her.

CHRISTINA: Yeah. So he works really long hours because he's a medical resident. So first I did mine, and then I did his. But, you know, we got to the topic of what race you identify as.

MOGROVEJO: I'm very particular about how I fill out the census, so I was like, oh, well, what did you put? And she's like, oh, I put Hispanic, Latino for ethnicity, and I put white for race. I was like, but you know I don't identify as white.

CHRISTINA: It - for me, it's confusing because I know he doesn't identify as white. So I think when I was going through the question, I almost didn't know what to put because they don't really give you a good option. I'm trying to remember back, but, you know, obviously they have, like, white/Caucasian. They have African/African American. And then I think they also have Asian, right? But they don't have very good options if you don't really identify as any of those categories. And so I kind of didn't really know what to do. And I didn't think about checking the box that said other. And it just - well, it prompted a very good conversation, I think.

MERAJI: Brandon said he explained to Christina that he's not treated like a white guy. Most people assume he's Latino. They live in the Bronx, and he says other Latinx people often address him in Spanish first. And white people often treat him like he's the help.

MOGROVEJO: They're like, oh, like, you must be the valet. Like, you can't be anyone else. And it's like explaining those experiences. That was where our conversation went. That's what I remember.

CHRISTINA: So on the census, if there had been an option for Latin or Latinx race, I wouldn't have even thought twice. I would have checked that box.

MERAJI: Brandon insisted they redo the census. This time, he checked Latino as his ethnicity, and for race, he checked other and typed in Latino.

MOGROVEJO: For me, it was important to submit my correct identity, but it was also important in the context of the Trump presidency and me being like, no, like, I'm Latino, I'm here and I want to be represented that way.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji, and this is CODE SWITCH from NPR. Gene's out this week. And if you're a regular here, you've probably already guessed that this is the latest in our occasional series of conversations about what it means to be...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Latina.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Latino.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Latinx.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Hispanic.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Latine.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Latin, Latinx.

MERAJI: Last time we did one of these, I talked to The Kid Mero. It was so much fun. He's a comedian, podcaster and late-night talk show host from the Bronx.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

THE KID MERO: My mom pulled me out of public school, put me in a Catholic school there was a lot of Irish kids in.

MERAJI: Yeah.

THE KID MERO: And they used to be like, yo, you're Black. That's very confusing to, like, a 7-year-old. Like, yes, but then it's like, I'm also Dominican. I speak Spanish.

MERAJI: This time around, my two guests discuss identity formation in the United States when you're also a Mexican immigrant who speaks Spanish and has light skin. But before we meet them, I want to point out that you're going to hear us use a few different terms in these discussions. So The Kid Mero told me he likes the nongendered term Latine. Others prefer Latinx, Latinx. Latino is an old standby. And I know a lot of people are going to hate this, but Hispanic is still the most popular.

MARIA HINOJOSA: I don't use Hispanic.

MERAJI: That's Maria Hinojosa.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "LATINO USA")

HINOJOSA: Welcome to Latino USA. I'm Maria Hinojosa.

MERAJI: Maria is the host of the longest-running national public media show focused on all things Latinx, founder of her own nonprofit media organization, Futuro Media...

HINOJOSA: The author of "Once I Was You: A Memoir Of Love And Hate In A Torn America" and about maybe 15 other jobs because I'm a Mexican immigrant, and I never say no to work.

MERAJI: Maria Garcia.

HINOJOSA: It's the truth.

MARIA GARCIA: I'm Maria Garcia. I'm the creator and host of Anything For Selena, the podcast, and the managing editor at WBUR.

MERAJI: How did you meet? How did you get to know each other?

HINOJOSA: Well, I actually met Maria when we were doing a live event outside of Boston, and it was a very small group of people. It was a pretty terrible, rainy night. You were there, Maria, right? And you came up to me, and you were like, hey. And I was like, oh, hey, what's up?

GARCIA: Yeah. It was exactly like that (laughter).

HINOJOSA: And so I didn't, in that moment, say, wait, you're Maria Garcia, who's going to be the future creator of Anything For Selena.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "ANYTHING FOR SELENA")

GARCIA: This is Anything For Selena, a podcast about belonging.

MERAJI: So to make a long story short, Maria Hinojosa's Futuro Media Group ended up co-producing Anything For Selena, a podcast where Maria Garcia examines the late pop icon's impact on Mexican Americans and U.S. society at large. And in it, she talks a lot about race and Latinidad and how exploring Selena's racial identity made her think hard about her own.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "ANYTHNG FOR SELENA")

GARCIA: I mean, I knew that I had light skin, but I thought I was relatively light skinned compared to my brown mother and my brown brother, that I was not white-white, but a Mexican who tanned less.

MERAJI: Like CODE SWITCH listener Brandon Mogrovejo, who we heard from earlier, both of these Marias have light skin. But their thoughts on how they identify - they don't always align.

GARCIA: Because of my skin tone, I will never be in danger the way, like, actual people of color might be, and so I don't want to take up space there.

HINOJOSA: I absolutely want to own my space as a woman of color, as a feminist woman of color. I'll go even further, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: That is after the break.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "LATINO USA")

HINOJOSA: (Speaking non-English language).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: Shereen - just Shereen - CODE SWITCH. It's the mid-1950s when Raul Hinojosa boards a bus leaving Tampico, Mexico, and heading north to Chicago. After traveling for hours, he finally gets to stretch his legs and use the restroom at a bus station in South Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HINOJOSA: (Reading) In the back of the small station, there were two bathroom doors, but it wasn't one for men and one for women. Here above each rickety door was a sign painted on a wooden panel hanging by a rusty nail. One said white. The other said colored. Raul, my father, sighed. Was he white or colored?

MERAJI: In her memoir, "Once I Was You," Maria Hinojosa writes about how having to make that choice humiliated and disgusted her father. She writes that her dad knew deep down he'd never be considered white in the United States. He was also well aware of the horror and humiliation inflicted upon those labeled colored.

HINOJOSA: (Reading) At the desolate bus station, Dad realized he needed to make a decision. So in an act of self-preservation or complicity or fear, but one that also felt deeply deceitful, my father chose privilege and walked into the white bathroom. In that moment, he realized he didn't fit in this country and that maybe he never would. Whiteness became an unspoken privilege that always felt like it should never have been his or ours. We were not Americans, but if we kept our mouths shut, sometimes we might be able to pass.

MERAJI: There's so much in that passage.

HINOJOSA: By the way, I didn't know this story at all until I was in my 50s and my dad was a few years from passing away from Alzheimer's. One of the beautiful things that happened in the writing of this book was that my father came to me a lot, which was like, wow, OK, I wasn't expecting this. I'm getting emotional. And I felt the sunkenness (ph) in his chest in that moment.

And then this notion of erasure - I was like, bruh (ph), that was what it was. Like, it kind of - I mean, my father wrote about this to my mother in a 10-page letter written by hand. And as I wrote about this, I was like - (speaking Spanish) - it was a central part of how we understood our reality. I mean, again, I didn't learn this until I was in my 50s. So I think that's part of the work that we as Latinos and Latinas have to do is to find the history, and it's very traumatic and very sad and often racialized. And we don't talk about it because we don't want to go there.

MERAJI: So do you consider yourself white?

HINOJOSA: No, I don't. There were members in my family who have blond hair and blue eyes. (Speaking Spanish). One, I was seen as the other. And then it's like, well, were you seen as the other because of race, or were you seen as the other because of ethnicity or immigration? It was all of it. It was all of it.

So now, I'm very lucky because, you know, Skip Gates from Harvard called me and said, hey, do you want to find your roots? And I was like, oh, my God. All right. And so I do know my roots. And I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have conquistador blood in me. And I'm going to do the lineage, and I'm going to go back to Malaga in Spain and wherever. I'm about to do that. I'm going to - in fact, I'm going to try to get my Spanish citizenship if I can.

But it turns out that what I do have is one-quarter of Indigenous blood, my matrilineal line. And I am going to honor that. And as a result, I will not define myself as a white woman because I'm going to honor that matrilineal line, which, by the way, is silenced in history because the history is recorded through the experience of the men. And I'm not going to let that part of me be silenced. And even - you know, of course, I look at myself and I'm like, you know, are you dark enough? And I'm like, (speaking Spanish) - don't - I'm doing the work to own this part of myself. And also, I'm a product of a historical moment, and I own that, too.

MERAJI: All right. I'm going to turn to Maria Garcia because this is a perfect transition. Maria G., in your episode Selena And Race, you talk about your grandmother.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "ANYTHING FOR SELENA")

GARCIA: My mama nana's (ph) presence looms large even now, 20 years after her death. She comes up at every family toast at Christmas. We put up an altar for her every Dia de los Muertos. She's become mythologized for the kids who never met her, like my own son. Her story is our family lore. She is undoubtedly...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: (Speaking Spanish).

GARCIA: ...The matriarch of our family.

MERAJI: For people who haven't listened to the podcast or haven't listened to this episode, how would you describe your mama nana?

GARCIA: My mama nana is very much the guiding light in our family. You know, as I was thinking about Selena and race, I knew that we had to have an episode where we really dug deep on what Selena's legacy reveals about race in America because the entire podcast is rooted in this idea that Selena's legacy is, like, this vessel to understand Latinidad, and we can't ignore that a big conversation the last several years around Latinidad is how we perceive race. And thinking about Selena's race made me think about race in my own family.

You know, I realized that my grandmother, you know, if I saw her now in the context of today's moment, I would look at her and think that she was Afro-Indigenous, or Black and Indigenous. But growing up, we never, ever talked about her heritage in this way, and it made me question what does it mean that the matriarch, my guiding light in my family, was somebody who was legibly Afro-Indigenous, and yet we never acknowledged her ancestry, we never investigated it? And we - she and my aunts and other family members, like, exalted whiteness. I've heard all of my life how happy she was that I had light skin and how much she boasted about that, and so I had to really grapple with that.

MERAJI: But you came to a very different conclusion than Maria Hinojosa for yourself personally. You know, Maria Hinojosa just talked about how she learned that on her matrilineal side that she was Indigenous. And you know this, but yet you no longer want to use the term woman of color, which I just - I find that is so interesting because you're coming at this from very different places. And so why is that? Why are you saying and identifying not as a woman of color any longer...

GARCIA: Well, if...

MERAJI: ...And saying that you're white?

GARCIA: Right. Well, if you listen to the podcast, I don't say I'm white.

MERAJI: Oh, OK. I did listen. What am I missing? Because that was definitely my takeaway, was that you were - you're saying you're no longer a woman of color...

GARCIA: I'm saying - yeah. Yeah. You know, and it's so interesting. In the last few weeks or since more people have been discovering the episode, I get this question a lot. I did a Facebook live recently with Julissa Arce, the author, and she told me, like, so after I heard this episode, I Instagram stalked you. I just, like, went, and I looked at every single one of your pictures...

MERAJI: So did I.

GARCIA: And I was like, this girl is crazy. She is a woman of color. Like, this girl is not white (laughter). And I've heard this from various other people and some of my friends. And the thing is, I don't say in the podcast, like, I identify as a white woman now, but I say, like, while I am figuring this out, it does not feel right for me to identify as a woman of color because I know that I have benefited from whiteness in my life. I benefited the moment I was born. And so I can't deny that whiteness has favored me, just like Mexican Americans cannot deny that there is a history in this country of Mexican Americans co-opting whiteness for themselves at their convenience to access rights and that, you know, there's a history of that.

MERAJI: Just breaking in here for a minute to say there is most definitely a history of Latinos making claims to whiteness in the courts to access rights. And this is something that I hope we get into in a deeper way in a future CODE SWITCH episode. And this isn't just a Latinx thing. There's a history of Native Americans having done this, Black and white biracial people, Middle Eastern people, East Asians and South Asians. Many of those cases were a way to get U.S. citizenship because for a long time, getting citizenship was tied to proof of whiteness. And while that's no longer technically the case, whiteness is still synonymous with full acceptance and the privileges of equality that this country claims to offer. And the attempt to harness whiteness to gain access to equal rights - that hasn't just happened in the courts on this big macro level but in everyday, very personal choices like choosing which bathroom to walk into in the mid-1950s. All right. Back to our conversation.

GARCIA: There's this fraught history in this country of how to grapple with whiteness, and what I will say is that our racial ambiguity has some privilege. That proximity has granted us rights that Black Americans, especially, you know, in the early parts of the 20th century and before that, like, were not granted. They were not able to engage with whiteness in the same way that we have because of our proximity to it.

MERAJI: Are you saying that the way we identify racially is about how other perceive us based on the color of our skin? Is that what goes into...

GARCIA: Not entirely, no. I don't think that it's entirely based on that. But I do believe that legibility plays a factor. Systems often treat us by the way that we are legible to them or not. So I don't think that the way people perceive your race completely determines how you should identify, but I do think that it plays a role. If we look at, like, why we use the term person of color, it's to create spaces of solidarity and to create resources for people who have historically been ignored and underrepresented in this country. And with the privilege that I have accessed because of my light skin, like, I've realized that I don't feel comfortable taking up space with that identity. Because of my skin tone, I will never be in danger the way, like, actual people of color might be.

MERAJI: Maria Hinojosa, what did you think when you heard that episode?

HINOJOSA: What did I think? Oh, I had so many - oh, my God. I had so many feelings. I was just like, oh, man. And I was - I was thrilled, though, because I was like, OK, let's go there. We need to have these conversations.

MERAJI: Yeah. Yeah. It's thought provoking.

HINOJOSA: I do think that Latinos and Latinas, we kind of have to own who we are, too. You know, there's many Latinos and Latinas who may be darker than Maria and I but who actively are going to identify as white because there is a pressure to be white in this country. But, yeah, I absolutely want to own my space as a woman of color, as a feminist woman of color. I'll go even further, right? And I want other women to join me in that as an act of solidarity and to think about that. Also, (speaking Spanish) with what Maria Garcia is saying, which is - but I also have privilege because of my lighter skin.

MERAJI: And for me, too, Maria Hinojosa, I feel like I do have lighter-skin privilege, and I think that's an important thing to say. But I also identify as a woman of color. It was shocking to me to hear somebody say that they no longer wanted to identify as that. It was hard to hear. I just - it was very hard for me to hear.

HINOJOSA: Oh, my God. It was so hard. I was just like, wait, what? (Laughter). But, again, this is Maria's journey, and I'm right here with her in solidarity.

GARCIA: And it's hard to talk about this 'cause I don't - you know, I don't want to sort of languish in this and be - you know, it benefits nobody to be like, poor me. I don't know where I fit in. You know? But it is - you know, it is a question that I'm grappling with.

HINOJOSA: Maria, so you were born - (speaking Spanish), Maria Garcia?

GARCIA: I was born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, El Norte, Maria. El Norte (speaking Spanish).

HINOJOSA: That's why I was like - no, I was like - because I find it interesting that you say - and I - first of all, respect. So I think that this conversation is really about recognizing the moment in history in which we are having this conversation - OK? - 2021, in the midst of another moment of solidarity for Black Lives Matter. I think we have to recognize that. At the same time, I found it interesting. You say, I'm - I don't want to take up space. I'm not in danger. And I'm like, well, actually, Maria, you know, you are - I mean, less so now because we're not living under, you know, essentially an authoritarian-tilting-to-fascist regime, right? Had Donald Trump won, we don't know what the next step was going to be for Black lives, but also for immigrant lives.

In the end, when we are stripped down to it, even if we have our American citizenship, you and I could end up in a detention facility in deportation proceedings. I'm talking about the extreme because when you reduce it down to it, you and I are foreigners in this country. We were not born here. And that is an essence of difference. So I - but I also appreciate what you're saying, which is let's not take up space where we - where our role is actually about talking about solidarity and, in my case, because I'm so much older, historical solidarity. And that gives me a tremendous sense of rooting in my experience in this country.

GARCIA: No. I hear you, Maria. And, you know, there were moments during the Trump administration, particularly when we heard about naturalized U.S. citizens who were being detained and deported, where I was afraid. I remember I had to - yeah, I was planning to go get a passport. And I just decided, you know what? During the Trump administration, I'm not going to do it.

I know that I have faced discrimination because of my ethnicity. My mom - she was a single - she - I grew up in a single-mother household. She worked in blue jean factories and at the overnight shift at Walmart all my life, and she did backbreaking work that hurt her body permanently. And I saw the discrimination that she faced and that I experienced as an extension. So I'm aware of the discrimination that my ethnicity brings. And I think that if - when we stop looking at privilege as this binary of either you have it or you don't based on the color of your skin - and there are systems that function this way. But there are also ways in which we carry privilege. There are also other ways in which we are - we have access to rights or we don't.

MERAJI: Do you two think class plays a role in how and if Latinos, how and if Latines, are racialized in the United States? You know, you two have very different immigration stories. You come from different class backgrounds. Maria Garcia, you know, you said in your podcast that you lived in a vecindad in Juarez, which was a tenement apartment situation, and then your family moved to rural El Paso, and you lived in a trailer. And Maria Hinojosa, your dad - he was an academic, and he got a research job at the University of Chicago. Your family came over with green cards. You have a different kind of set of privileges. Does class, does educational background - does that play a role in how you see your race and who you are and how you've been treated?

HINOJOSA: Yeah. Yeah, that's a big one.

MERAJI: Yeah.

HINOJOSA: So I always like to couch it that, yes, my dad was a nerd who was a medical doctor who was dedicated to research. We lived grant-to-grant, much the way public radio people live - grant-to-grant, year-to-year. But we were not living in a trailer. So I was hyperaware that there was privilege, but also (laughter) don't get too comfortable because we're Mexican immigrants. Nonetheless, I think, you know, yes, my father was at the University of Chicago. Therefore, I end up going to the University of Chicago High School. Therefore, I end up in the Ivy League, you know, here at Barnard College, part of Columbia University. It's actually here in New York where I begin to have a deeper thought process around race. And Latinidad because now I was in a community where there were many Afro-Latinos and Latinas, Indigenous Latinos and Latinas.

So for me, privilege is really a central part - understanding my privilege is a central part of my story in that I write about it because it leads me to responsibility. So I could have taken my privilege, I think, and I could have said, like, yo soy blanquita. I'm never going to speak Spanish again. I'm - you know, I'm going to - I'm specifically going to look to marry a person who is not going to speak Spanish with me. I could have done that. I could have. I end up marrying somebody who had no class privilege at all and who is Afro-Taino. And so while I recognize I have this class privilege, I have made very clear choices about where I'm raising my kids (laughter). Very consciously, we are living in a working class, very mixed community in West Harlem, New York City. I made that decision because I wanted my kids to have - yes, they had privilege, but also rootedness. So for me, class privilege has always been understanding what your context is, and then, therefore, what do you do with it? What is your responsibility?

GARCIA: I grew up in - you know, I don't even like to say working class because middle-class folks work for a living (laughter), you know? But, like, you know, I grew up in a very poor community. And, you know, there were moments where I - like, I have felt hunger because of lack of money. And so, you know, I recognize that people from working-class roots are often racialized in a deeper way in this country, the intersection of discrimination that is, you know, compounded by classism.

At the same time, though, there's a threshold. Like, ultimately, like, money doesn't buy you whiteness (laughter), you know what I mean? Like, you can become, you know, the wealthiest. But ultimately, like, if you're walking down the street and you're racialized as someone other than white, that's going to really restrict your access to some rights. So it's complex and layered.

MERAJI: It is. It definitely is. It's - and I'm glad that, you know, we're framing this as a conversation because there are no clear answers. So I'm going to ask you a big question (laughter) that there is not a clear answer to, and it's one of the big questions we're wrestling with, which is, what makes us this group? What makes us a group of people here in the United States? What makes Latinos Latinos, Latinxs Latinxs?

HINOJOSA: You're going first, Maria.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: You know...

HINOJOSA: (Laughter).

GARCIA: I'm glad this is - that's a hard one. I think it's a medley of things. It is language to an extent, though, it's not a prerequisite to being Latinx. I also think it's sort of a solidarity of culture. Despite the fact that there are - there is so much difference between our cultures, there is also sort of a flowing undercurrent of sameness. Like, there is something in each other that we recognize. And it's hard to describe because sometimes it's based in language, sometimes it's based in custom, sometimes it's based on sort of the ethos of the importance of family and of togetherness. But there is this, like, undercurrent of solidarity that we recognize in each other.

HINOJOSA: Yeah. I mean, I (laughter) - I wonder sometimes, if we had not been so attacked in this country over the last - well, really, you know - what? - the last several decades, would Latinos and - how would we feel? How would we be as a, quote-unquote, "group" if we hadn't been so attacked? I mean, Donald Trump starts his campaign by insulting Mexicans and Mexican immigrants. So (laughter) I love the term solidarity because I think it is a kind of awareness. And in this sense, it is somewhat political. So I like this notion of a very hyperconscious act of definition of, we are Latinos and Latinas, Latine, Latinx, X. In my dreams - right? - it becomes something that - in fact, we work at it to create a sense of unity. But (laughter) in the same breath, I'm going to say, be very careful around a sense of nationalism as our only purpose. This is so dangerous.

So on the one hand I'm saying, like, yes, we have to, we must, because we're being erased, because we're being silenced, because we're being targeted. And on the other hand, I'm saying, do that, but with the hyperawareness that it is about creating solidarity and that that notion of hyper-identity as a community can lead us to exclusion. And I want nothing to do with that. So we use our Latinidad to center ourselves, give us a sense of root history. But we use it to understand our extraordinary responsibility for solidarity across the board. And that continues to be a conversation that we have to have. It takes work, difficult conversations and an active commitment to it.

MERAJI: That was Maria Hinojosa, author of "Once I Was You: A Memoir Of Love And Hate In A Torn America" - she's also the host of "Latino USA" - and Maria Garcia, the host of the Anything For Selena podcast. She's also the managing editor of WBUR.

Thank you. This was the highlight of weeks because I've been living with you two - Maria Garcia in my ears - I mean, and Maria Hinojosa, you've been in my ears forever, but - and Maria, like, in my brain, like, on the page. It's just - it's so exciting to actually be able to put it together. So thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

GARCIA: Well, thank you so much.

HINOJOSA: Oh, Shereen, thank you so much. I just have to say - can I just say...

MERAJI: Yeah.

HINOJOSA: ...To your producers - I remember Shereen Marisol...

MERAJI: (Laughter).

HINOJOSA: ...When she was, like - when she was a baby.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: And that's our show, one that Leah Donnella, our editor, has nicknamed Maria Maria, which has put that Santana riff in my head for weeks now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SANTANA'S, "MARIA MARIA")

MERAJI: (Vocalizing). You know it. By the way, I'm still mad at Leah for that because (laughter) it's like an earworm, and it won't get out. Anyway, you all must have thoughts after listening to this episode. Let us know what they are by sending us an email or a voice memo to codeswitch@npr.org. You could end up in the next installment of the series, like...

RABO: Jasmine Rabo (ph).

ALVARADO: Amber Alvarado (ph).

MERAJI: ...Who had very small cameos at the very start. And thanks again to Christina and Brandon Mogrovejo for sharing your marital strife with us over the census. We really appreciate it.

I produced this episode with Kumari Devarajan and with help from Summer Thomad. Leah Donnella edited. And a shoutout to the rest of the CODE SWITCH crew - Karen Grigsby Bates, Steve Drummond, Alyssa Jeong Perry, Jess Kung, Christina Cala, Natalie Escobar, LA Johnson and Sam Yellowhorse Kesler. Our intern is Carmen Molina Acosta. Gene's back soon. I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji. Peace.

And don't forget, y'all. We want to hear your honest feedback on our podcast. So go to npr.org/podcastsurvey to fill out an anonymous survey. It takes just a few minutes, and it really helps us out. Check out the link in our episode notes as well.

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