In The Thick

Journalists of color tell you what you’re missing from the mainstream news. Co-hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, IN THE THICK has the conversations about race, identity and politics few people are discussing or want to discuss.
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In The Thick



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Oct 17, 2017

It’s been four weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, and the island is still in crisis. 82% of the island is still without power and 35% is still without clean water. Host Julio Ricardo Varela checks in with two reporters who recently returned from Puerto Rico, Frances Robles of the New York Times and Andrés Caballero of Latino USA. They talk about their experiences on the island, the people they spoke with, and their thoughts about Puerto Rico’s future.

Oct 9, 2017

Across the U.S., cities and states are starting to call the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. Los Angeles just officially changed the name, following in the footsteps of Minneapolis, Seattle, Alaska, and Oregon.

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a conversation about the importance of this change with Mitch O’Farrell, council member of LA’s 13th district, and Chrissie Castro, vice chairwoman of the Los Angeles Native American Indian Commission.

This episode of In The Thick is brought you by Away. For $20 off the best carry-on luggage you will ever have, go to and enter promo code inthethick.

Oct 6, 2017
In The Thick brings you a special bonus episode from our sister podcast, Latino USA, checking in on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In The Thick co-host Julio Ricardo Varela has been intensely reporting on the hurricane, so he sat down with co-host Maria Hinojosa to dispel some myths about what's happening on the island today.
We hear from the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Roselló, about her take on the devastation. And we get a sense of what Puerto Rico feels like now from Latino USA producer Andrés Caballero, who is on the ground reporting.
Oct 3, 2017

With all the news of the past week, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the hack of Equifax released sensitive data of almost 150 million people. And in today’s social media-obsessed world, it’s easy to forget that information can be found, passed around, and used against you. Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion about the dangers of being POC online with Baratunde Thurston, comedian and writer, and Jamilah Lemieux, Vice President of News and Men's Programming for Interactive One.

Plus, Julio checks in with Maria about the shooting in Las Vegas and an update on the crisis in Puerto Rico.

Sep 26, 2017

The worst hurricane in almost a century leaves Puerto Rico devastated. A series of earthquakes hits Mexico City. A new travel ban, and an NFL protest. Plus, an in depth discussion on the future of Latino activism with Janet Murguia, President of UnidosUS, and Marisa Franco Director of Mijente and the Not1More Deportation Campaign.

Sep 19, 2017
It's not just Charlottesville. Public acts of anti-Semitism are on the rise across the country, and they're directly linked to the rise in white nationalism. In order to understand the threat posed by white nationalism, we need to examine its anti-Semitic roots.
Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western State Center, and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Plus, a quick check-in with Washington Post congressional reporter Ed O'Keefe about the recent DACA news.
Sep 12, 2017
Joy Reid, the host of AM Joy on MSNBC, has been called biased or even activist, but in the age of Trump, what do terms like that really mean? And do journalists of color have unique responsibilities to stand up right now?
Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with Joy Reid. Plus, a conversation about what's been missing in the coverage of Hurricane Irma.
Sep 5, 2017

On Tuesday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. No new DACA applications will be accepted, current DACA holders have one month to renew (under certain circumstances), and over the next 6 months, DACA will start to be phased out.

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela bring on comedian and actress Cristela Alonzo to process this news, and to think about how to possibly start moving forward.

Aug 29, 2017

Last week, the Arizona GOP used a picture of Margaret Cho and the cast from her 90’s TV show “All-American Girl” on its website, with the caption, “Asian Americans.” Let’s just say Cho wasn’t exactly happy about it, saying of the GOP, “They deserve a dodgeball to the face.”

On this special end-of-summer episode of In The Thick, Cho joins Maria and Julio to talk about the current political climate, her new tour, her upcoming show on TNT, and how Asian-Americans fit into the racial dynamic of the U.S. Oh, and also swingers.

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Aug 22, 2017

After Charlottesville, many have said something along the lines of,
"This is un-American," or "This isn't what this country is all about."
But White Supremacy isn't just a fringe movement. It's a founding
principle of the U.S.

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion with Jamilah King, race
and justice reporter at Mother Jones, and Chenjerai Kumanyika,
professor at the Rutgers department of journalism and media studies.

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Aug 15, 2017

After this weekend's violence at a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, In The Thick takes a look back at an episode we originally published in December, 2016. In this episode, hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela talk with Mike German, a former FBI agent who infiltrated the white supremacist movement. German talks about his experiences undercover, and how the media is missing the real story about white supremacy.

Aug 8, 2017

MS-13, the Los Angeles-founded international gang, is all over the news. But why is President Trump drawing attention to MS-13 now? And what is it really like on the inside?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with former MS-13 member and current director of Homies Unidos Denver, Gerardo Lopez. Plus, a check-in with columnist Ruben Navarrette on the RAISE Act and affirmative action.

Aug 1, 2017


In this chaotic political moment, where does hope fit in? Should we be optimistic about our country’s possibilities for improvement? And does how you view the country depend on whether you're POC?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with journalist Jamil Smith, and Matthew Dowd, Chief Political Analyst for ABC News.

Jul 25, 2017

Under the Trump presidency, the Democrats have found themselves in a moment of truth. Will they embrace the populist wing led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Or will they finally begin to represent their true, core base—communities of color?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with journalist Jane Coaston, and Vanessa Williams, staff writer for The Washington Post.

Jul 18, 2017
Almost 100 people have died in near-daily protests against the Venezuelan government over the last few months. Still, in the U.S. we're only hearing a trickle of news, and when we do, the narratives are often overly simplistic.
Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion about this complicated, long simmering conflict with Mariana Atencio, national correspondent for NBC News, and Juan Forero, South America Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal.


Jul 11, 2017

With his first major appearance alongside the most powerful world leaders at the G-20, how did President Trump do? How do other countries see the U.S. now that Trump is the president? And does "America First," really just mean "whiteness first?"

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Terrell Starr, senior reporter at Foxtrot Alpha, and Tarini Parti, Capitol Hill reporter for BuzzFeed News.

Jul 3, 2017

How did immigration become about national security when the facts don’t back up this connection? And how do you respond to these accusations when the conversation isn’t about what’s true? When it’s about something deeper?

In this live recording of In The Thick at the Aspen Ideas Festival, hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a conversation with Wajahat Ali, writer, video essayist, and contributor to the New York Times, and Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, immigrant rights activist and founder of Define American.

Jun 27, 2017

Based on President Trump’s rhetoric with the wall and the Muslim ban, you would think that terrorism is a huge safety issue for the U.S. But how much of a danger does it really pose? Americans are much more scared of terrorism than they should be, and 24 hour cable news is a major reason why.

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion about this and more with Carlos Maza, video journalist for

Jun 20, 2017

After the Virginia shooting, the media was quick to humanize the shooter, who was a white, male, Bernie supporter. Obviously, this isn’t how it always goes down.

So, when is violence just about the action, and when is it about the identity of the perpetrator? And how much should identity and politics matter when it comes to violence?

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion on this and more with Farah Stockman, reporter for the New York Times and Marcela Garcia, editorial writer for the Boston Globe and  co-host of the new weekend edition of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.

Jun 13, 2017

Puerto Rico voted overwhelmingly for Statehood on Sunday, but with only 23% turnout. Many Puerto Ricans boycotted the vote because they continue to be overlooked by the U.S. government. So, what’s the best way forward? Working within the system? Or breaking it?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with Sandra Lilley, Managing Editor of NBC Latino, and Frances Robles, reporter for the New York Times.

Jun 8, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday morning, and we couldn't wait until our normal Tuesday drop date. For this In The Thick FYI, Maria and Julio called up Tarini Parti, Capitol Hill reporter for Buzzfeed News to get an update on the unfolding situation in DC.

Jun 6, 2017

The decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement has major implications for the entire world, but President Trump’s choice reflects a deeper, largely unseen problem -- how environmental issues disproportionately affect communities of color in the U.S.

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Terrell Starr, senior reporter at Foxtrot Alpha and Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth.

May 30, 2017

Demonstrators filled the Texas House of Representatives on Monday to protest Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which Governor Abbott signed into law earlier this month. The law bans sanctuary cities in Texas, and it gives police officers broad authority to question people’s immigration status. The protest escalated to the point that two state representatives each claimed their lives were threatened by the other.

What does this law actually allow police to do, why is it provoking such outrage now, and what does it mean for the future of Texas — and the rest of the country?

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion with Delia Garza, Austin City Council Member for District 2, and Roque Planas, National Reporter for The Huffington Post.

May 23, 2017


News about the FBI has been accelerating over the last week, but there’s still so much we don’t know. Who is responsible for the intelligence failures, the Trump administration, the FBI, or someone else entirely? And how should we judge the last few weeks stand when considering the history of the FBI? Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with former FBI agent Mike German.

Plus, a check-in with Wajahat Ali about the terror attack in Manchester and President Trump’s Middle East trip.

May 19, 2017

Leading up to the 2016 election, we heard so much about the "sleeping giant" of the Latino vote. So, did the giant wake up? And, more broadly, what does the term Latino mean today to a community that is so diverse? 

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, professor at the University of Texas and Ray Salazar, teacher and journalist based in Chicago.

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