Following the success of Soledad O’Brien’s Black in America tours, which foster conversations on issues plaguing the Black community, the award-winning journalist launched another tour: I Am Latino in America.
While Black in America’s main focus has been overpolicing in the Black community, I Am Latino in America takes a look amplifying Latino voices leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
“Often, the conversations are driven by Rudy Guiliani talking about Black-on-Black crime or Congressman Steve King talking about illegal immigration, but that’s certainly not the tenor of the conversations that are actually happening in those communities,” O’Brien told ESSENCE.com. “I think this is an opportunity to do something that’s more authentic.”
The tour kicked off at Florida International University last weekend and will bring panels and presentations to more than 15 cities across the nation including Los Angeles and Edinburg, Texas.
“We’re looking toward 2016 and what really will be the power of the Latino vote and the power of the Latino voice,” O’Brien said. “There’s a number of issues that really don’t get much coverage, so we’re interested in having panelists come in and do multimedia presentations that really goes into what the issues are that matter. What are the things that people should be advocating for in the Latino community?”
O’Brien is no stranger to sparking these conversations. She has hosted seven years of Black in America, and most recently, she produced Heroin USA, a documentary that takes a harrowing look at the heroin epidemic.
“If you look at the number of people who are addicted to opioid and pain medication, that really explains what’s happening in heroin use,” she said. “It’s really the first story that I’ve done where I’ve felt physically afraid for my children. I would interview so many parents who were just trying to figure out how to navigate this terrible thing.”
However distressing the situation, though, O’Brien says that she is committed to telling the story and jumpstarting a discussion.
“I think that there are a lot of stories to tell, and we don’t do anybody a service if we’re avoiding stories,” she said. “Sometimes they’re great stories, sometimes they’re sad stories, but at the end of the day, they’re all true and hopefully well-told. That’s how you move the needle.”
Catch Heroin USA on Al Jazeera America. For more information on O’Brien’s I Am Latino in America tour, visit iamlatinoinamerica.com.