Three questions with...
2023 Fellow Jennifer Medina

Your Fellows project will be a book tracing modern Latino politics and identity in America. As a national political reporter for the New York Times you write about this topic often, what inspired you to expand your work into a book-length project?

I’ve spent two decades as a newspaper reporter and have long dreamed of writing a book, but had never settled on a topic that I was willing to commit the time and energy that a book project would require. After the 2020 presidential election, there was a collective shock in much of mainstream media and politics about Latinos, primarily over the movement toward Trump and the Republican Party. After feeling frustrated for years that Latinos are largely ignored, in some ways it was validating to see Latinos voters in the spotlight. But there was so much history and context being glossed over and misunderstood. So I decided to use that frustration to fuel my work even further. We tend to think of race in this country solely through the Black-White paradigm. And yet, Latinos have long been racialized here and now make up nearly 20 percent of the country and are increasingly important in political battlegrounds. I am eager to explore the many implications in that reality.

As you’ve covered multiple election cycles across the country, what changes have you noticed in the beliefs and actions of Latino voters?

The biggest change has not been the beliefs and actions of voters themselves, but the way in which they’ve received so much attention from both parties, along with the media. There’s a pernicious and well worn stereotype that Latino voters are a “sleeping giant”—but they haven’t been sleeping, they were simply being taken for granted. Latinos are a very young population, so the number of Latino voters is constantly growing. Part of what we’re seeing now is that Latinos want to be spoken to in a positive way—I’ve talked to so many Latino voters who say something along the lines of: Republicans seem to hate people like me, but I don’t see how Democrats have made my life any better. The conventional wisdom was Trump would repel Latino voters, but what we see is that was not enough.

You were introduced to political community organizing at a young age. How has this shaped your understanding of the political process and your reporting and writing?

I was a young teenager when California voters passed Proposition 187, an anti-immigrant ballot measure. My high school was overwhelmingly Latino and many of my classmates lived with silent fear that they or their families could be deported at any moment—this was long before anyone was calling themselves “undocumented and unafraid.” It made me deeply aware that politics is not some kind of abstract thing that happens in a far away capitol and rhetoric has real world consequences. My goal as a reporter has always been to show how politics and policy impacts people’s everyday lives. I am less interested in the palace intrigue of politics and more concerned about how who we elect changes—or doesn’t—the trajectory of our country.

Hot Off The Press

Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance

A behind-the-scenes look at how digital surveillance is affecting the trucking way of life.

Publication date: December 6th.

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Karen Levy, Class of 2019

Learn more

Two Cents

We asked the Fellows how they deal with reader's block.

1: I dig into the stack of New Yorkers that gets neglected when I'm reading great books. Magazine articles are such a small commitment of time, but the reward can be huge. (Equally, you can bail from a magazine without the same kind of guilt of bailing from a book). — Lisa M. Hamilton, Class of 2019

2: If I'm struggling to focus on a nonfiction book, I switch to a good novel. If I can't focus on a novel, I have bigger problems. I also use reading to help me out of writer's block or story idea block—going back to a history of a topic always inspires me to think of new ways into a story or highlights overlooked aspects that bear on the present.
— Anna Louie Sussman, Class of 2022

3: I'm usually a serial-monogamist when it comes to books, but lately I've started taking a buffet approach (to mix metaphors). This way I have several options to match my mood or my quest: enjoyment? inspiration? information? A juicy longform magazine feature with vivid storytelling usually gets me unstuck too—if I can finish it in one sitting, I feel accomplished. — Ellen D. Wu, Class of 2022


CJ Hunt will be screening his film The Neutral Ground at the Kennedy Center on November 6th. The film will be followed by a talk back with Hunt and Vann R. Newkirk. 

Reuben Jonathan Miller was awarded a 2022 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Patricia Evangelista was awarded a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant. 

Jennifer Medina discussed the role of Latino voters in the upcoming midterm elections for the New York Times podcast, The Daily.

Clint Smith wrote for the Atlantic about the impact of a racist slur on the body.

Monica Potts examined the divide between voters on the value of high education and its political consequences in FiveThirtyEight.

Two Cents

Reading this month

This is an intimate portrait of a complex and complicated literary figure who deserves more recognition.
— Keisha N. Blain,
Class of 2022

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It's a self-help and mental health podcast that is actually rigorous and empathetic and not based on quackery.
— Vann R. Newkirk,
Class of 2020

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A beautiful collection of craft essays that draws on feminism and resists the notion that there is no longer space for personal narrative in writing.
— Khameer Kidia,
Class of 2023

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Free Swag

Fill out the form below for a chance to win a copy of Strangers to Ourselves by Rachel Aviv, Class of 2019.

Please submit by Monday, November 7th to be considered.

Get swag!

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