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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May 16, 2017

The media often portrays Donald Trump and Steve Bannon as explicitly anti-Latino and anti-POC. But does this reflect what they really believe? Does it matter? Or should we simply judge Trump and Bannon on their actions and policies alone?

In this first ever live recording of In The Thick, hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with Steve Cortes, contributor to Fox News and an informal advisor to President Trump, and Esther Cepeda, featured opinion columnist at the Washington Post.

Plus, Julio and Maria call up Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post to go over the latest on Donald Trump, James Comey, and Russia.

May 9, 2017

In the last few weeks, protests have been turning violent across the country. But who is starting the violence? Those on the far-left, far-right, or both? And what does the police response tell us about what the U.S. might become?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Farah Stockman, reporter for the New York Times, and Mike German, former FBI agent, who worked as an undercover agent among white supremacists.

May 2, 2017

NPR’s recently released diversity numbers showed little improvement in 2016, and many other outlets have declined to even release their numbers. So why is it so hard to create a diverse newsroom? Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with reporter Farai Chideya and writer Jeff Yang on what newsrooms miss when they aren’t diverse, and why diversity in newsrooms is more crucial now than ever.

Apr 25, 2017

Donald Trump promised early on to “drain the swamp,” but what is the swamp actually like? What kind of power do lobbyists have, and who is actually a part of those backroom conversations?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on the secret power of Washington DC with Jimmy Williams, former lobbyist and host of the political podcast, DecodeDC.

Apr 18, 2017

Donald Trump campaigned on “America First,” but by attacking Syria, he has shown himself to be a president very much involved on the world stage. What is the message he is sending by reversing his promises so dramatically? And has war simply become normalized in the Arab World?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Zeeshan Aleem, foreign affairs staff writer for, and Malak Chabkoun, independent Middle East researcher and writer.

Apr 11, 2017


Under Donald Trump, political comedy has often been more hard hitting than straight news. And it’s not just big-name late night hosts carrying the torch. Comedians across the country are rethinking what comedy means during a Trump administration. Is it still just about being funny? Or is it about resistance?

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion on this and more with comics Lalo Alcaraz and Elsa Waithe.

Apr 4, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch is facing a likely Democratic filibuster on his way to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is strong in his belief that the Constitution should be read as it was originally intended – but is it fair to the women and communities of color that were ignored or disenfranchised in the 230-year-old document? And will the filibuster work?

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion on this and more with Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, and Cristian Farías, Legal Affairs Reporter for The Huffington Post.

Mar 28, 2017

After the failure of the health care bill, the Trump administration immediately shifted the focus back to immigration, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlining federal sanctions to sanctuary cities at a White House press briefing. Is this new focus about creating real reform, or is it just a distraction?

Hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela bust some of the most crucial myths on immigration with help from Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst from the Cato Institute, and Erika Andiola, former Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders, and current Political Director for Our Revolution.

Mar 21, 2017

After the first hearing on the Russia allegations, we look at some of the unseen implications of the hacking scandal. Would Americans care more if we had been hacked by Mexico? By Iran? Is Russia getting off easy because of its whiteness?

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

Mar 14, 2017

Lost in the current debate over health care are the consistent health disparities between communities of color and white communities. What are the disparities under the ACA, and how might they be made worse under the new health bill, the AHCA?

Host Julio Ricardo Varela leads a discussion with Callie Crossley, the host of Under the Radar on WGBH Radio, and Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Director of Health Equity at Families USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health advocacy organization.

Mar 7, 2017

Last year, he called Donald Trump a “buffoon" on cable news. Now, he’s working with him. Is Javier Palomarez trying to change the Trump Administration from the inside? And if so, when does resistance from the inside become cooperation?

Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela discuss this and more with Javier Palomarez, President of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and advisor to the National Diversity Coalition For Trump.

Feb 28, 2017

#51: Getting Into GET OUT (With Special Guests Lakeith Stanfield and Jay Smooth)

When was the last time you sat in a movie theater cowering in fear, then the next minute you’re laughing — and the whole time you’re getting schooled about racial fear in a “post-racial America?” For us, at In The Thick, it was this past weekend, when we saw Get Out, the #1 movie in the U.S.

We sat down with Lakeith Stanfield of Get Out (and FX’s Atlanta) and viral social commentator/video blogger Jay Smooth to tackle the movie’s perception of white liberals, the theme of co-opting black bodies, and the relationship of fear and humor.

Feb 21, 2017

So… we need to talk about class. In a lot of ways, this election was about the forgotten working class, but how should we talk about class and its relationship to race? And how are the two interconnected?

Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with comedian Cristela Alonzo and rapper Victor “KOOL A.D.” Vazquez.

Feb 14, 2017

Immigration raids across the country, a new movement coming from the White House against legal immigration, and a repeated accusation of voter fraud — again, blaming undocumented immigrants.

Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion on this and more with Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, and Thanu Yakupitiyage, Senior Communications Manager at the New York Immigration Coalition.

Feb 10, 2017

After several days of reported immigration raids and publicized deportations, Julio called up Adolfo Flores, Latino affairs and breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News to talk about the last few days and the feeling on the ground in LA. This is our second In The Thick FYI (ITT FYI) — keep an eye out for more of these to come.

Feb 7, 2017

Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has used a particular kind of coded language. It may not be obvious at first, but take a look at phrases like “America First,” “American Carnage,” and the proposal to change the government program, “Countering Violent Extremism," to "Countering Islamic Extremism.” This language fosters fear of specific groups, including many communities of color.

Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela discuss this and more with Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer for the New Yorker and Leslie Sanchez, contributor for CBS News.

Jan 31, 2017

A Muslim ban, a constitutional crisis and sanctuary cities in danger. Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a conversation about this crazy week of news with Michelle Wu, President of the Boston City Council, and Angela Maria Kelley, Executive Director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Also, a web extra: Click here to listen to our producer Noam’s musical version of W.H. Auden’s 1939 poem, “Refugee Blues."

Jan 24, 2017

Some women of color and some white women did not feel welcome at what may have been the largest single day protest in U.S. history. What is behind this divide, and will it be possible for women to come together as a unified front?

Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with Julianne Hing, contributing writer for The Nation and Farah Stockman, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times.

Jan 17, 2017

How will Ben Carson and Jeff Sessions stack up as part of Trump’s potential cabinet? Should we still be talking about the Russian hacks? And what does the end of “Wet Foot Dry Foot” mean for the future of the Cuban-American community and Latinos in general?

Maria and Julio lead a discussion with Jamilah King, Senior Staff Writer at Mic, and Raul Reyes, contributing writer for NBC News and CNN.

Jan 12, 2017

It's been a crazy week in the political world and we just couldn’t wait until for a new full episode to talk about it, so Julio called In The Thick all-star Wajahat Ali to discuss Donald Trump’s press conference and the Russia allegations that have dominated the news cycle.

Keep an eye out for more mini-episodes like this in the future. For now, we’re calling it In The Thick FYI (ITT FYI).

Jan 10, 2017

Rita Moreno is perhaps the most famous and accomplished Latina actress in history, and she takes Maria and Julio behind the scenes of many of her most recognizable roles, both old and new, touching on issues of representation, accents, and race.

Maria and Julio lead a discussion with Rita about her star-turning role in West Side story and her latest role in the reboot of Norman Lear’s classic show, “One Day at a Time.”

Jan 4, 2017

It’s a new year! And what’s the first week of January all about? RESOLUTIONS. And as you tell your friends how you’re going to starting drinking more water and going to bed earlier, we’re declaring our new years resolution right here and right now: to continue to have those tough and necessary conversations (in addition to taking the stairs more). So hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela kick this year off by talking with Jamil Smith, Senior National Correspondent at MTV News, about how to be better POC: being loud and proud, and practicing what we preach.

We also touch on major stories we’ll be following this year with a conversation about politicians using race to fuel paranoia of immigrants, the declining prison population, and what Hollywood might look like under a Trump administration.

Dec 12, 2016

Hari Kondabolu is an outspoken, passionate, darkly funny comedian and the co-host of the podcast Politically Re-Active. In this discussion, co-hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela talk with Hari about the craziest stories of 2016, what we got wrong, and whether Donald Trump will cancel our podcasts.

Dec 5, 2016

With all the media attention about white supremacy and the alt-right, one former FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the white supremacist movement wants to tell this country that we have it all wrong.

In this extended In The Thick, co-hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela talk with Mike German about his experiences undercover, and how the media is missing the real story.

Nov 28, 2016

Fidel Castro has died, but what does this mean for Cuba and its relationship with the US going forward? And what does it mean for Cuba and other US immigrant communities?

Co-hosts Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela lead a discussion with journalist Terrell Starr and Guillermo Grenier, Professor of Sociology at Florida International University.

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