Maria Hinojosa’s America By The Numbers: Clarkston Georgia

Part of the PBS Election 2012 Line-up

New York, NY – Award-winning investigative journalist Maria Hinojosa launched her new production company The Futuro Media Group in 2012 to create multimedia journalism dedicated to reporting untold stories and explorng and giving voice to the diversity of the American experience.  Today at the Television Critic’s Association meeting in Beverly Hills Hinojosa announced that their first project America by the numbers: Clarkston Georgia, a look at how changing demographics are reshaping the American political landscape, is set to air on September 21st at 8:30 p.m. on PBS stations nationwide as a NEED TO KNOW Election 2012 Special Presentation.  The program is the first public affairs special on PBS to be executive produced and anchored by a Latina.

America by the Numbers: Clarkston Georgia is the story of a small town of 7,500 people that has gone from being 90% white in the 1980s to less than 14% white today. Located in the shadow of Stone Mountain, Georgia, which was once a gathering place for Klu Klux Klan cross burnings, today Clarkston is home to thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Bhutan along with some forty other countries. The newcomers speak more than 60 different languages and have settled in Clarkston to escape, war, persecution and massacre. But the city council is still all white. 

Hinojosa chose Clarkston, Georgia for her report because it is a prime example of the kinds of demographic shifts that are happening across America that could have a profound impact on the upcoming Presidential election.

Census Bureau data made public in May indicates that births of Latinos, African Americans, Asians and those of mixed race – reached 50.4 percent in 2011, representing a majority of births for the first time in the history of the country.

“I came to Clarkston because this city is a laboratory for the future of America. I wanted to see what democracy means to some of the newest Americans in this election year,” she said. The program puts a human face on the demographic changes in the United States and explores how the rising multicultural population is influencing our culture and society.

It has not been easy for these new immigrants in Clarkston. A white resident believes that the immigrants are destroying the way of life in this rural Georgia town 11 miles outside of Atlanta. “They don’t know how to light a stove so they build a fire in the middle of the floor and drink out of a commode,” reported this resident even though he admits he has never seen this himself.

In the opening sequence, Hinojosa and her team use animation and info graphics to show “The Numbers” in terms of demographic changes. She speaks with author and trend tracker Guy Garcia who notes that “the new mainstream” is the combination of a shift in demographics as the new immigrants along with African American, Asian and Latino populations are growing and gaining influence. The buying power of these groups exceeds two trillion dollars. It is projected that we will become a multicultural majority nation by 2042. “Should white America be afraid of becoming a minority?” Hinojosa asks. “Only if it’s within the old definition of what a minority means, marginalized, left out, disenfranchised. The new mainstream is inclusive: everybody is welcome to the new mainstream,” Garcia replies.

Maria Hinojosa is an award winning reporter, news anchor and author with more than 25 years of experience as an investigative journalist. She is the anchor and executive producer of the long-running weekly NPR program Latino USA. She has worked tirelessly to go behind the headlines to explore the diverse challenges faced by Americans of all backgrounds. Hinojosa is the recipient of three Emmy awards, the Robert F. Kennedy award in journalism, and most recently the Studs Terkel Community Media Award.

The program was produced with the support of all five members of The National Minority Consortia of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: The Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting, The National Black Programming Consortium, Native American Public Telecommunications, and Pacific Islanders in Communications; by the Ford Foundation and by the Marguerite Casey Foundation. America by the Numbers: Clarkston Georgia was Executive Produced by Maria Hinojosa and Martha Spanninger, who also directed the program and is a Peabody award-winner and network television journalist. The program was co-produced by Xochitl Dorsey. Need to Know is Executive Produced by Marc Rosenwasser.