Vanessa and I do not talk politics. We talk. We occasionally grab lunch. We stay in touch. We catch up. But we do not talk politics. When I ask her to appear on my podcast, she hesitates. She puts me off. She waits…months, more than a year. Elections come and go. Finally she says yes – but only for me.
We do not talk politics. But if you listen to the conversation we talk around politics without talking ABOUT politics. Because we talk about her American experience.
Certain things about the immigrant experience are universal. The adventure of the journey. The shock at being in a strange culture. The feeling of being alone without an extended family around you. The bureaucracy.
Other things are unique to the individual immigrant – the name and face of the stranger who welcomed you. The person who went out of their way to clue you in, to support you, to send you on a better path. The people who were cold or cruel.
Vanessa has all those stories. One thing you cannot assume. You cannot assume two immigrants who look similar and speak the same language share the same beliefs. No two people have precisely the same experience. If you assume all Spanish speaking people share similar beliefs or experiences, you do so at your own political peril.
Vanessa works in the political world in Miami. We do not speak about her work. The closest we get is toward the end of our recorded conversation. We share two important things in common:
- We believe TV News is terribly toxic and
- We don’t watch it.
This is interesting because Vanessa and I met in a local TV newsroom. I was an investigative reporter and Vanessa was an intern learning about communications. She worked her way from the Bronx to Queens University in Charlotte. She was the recipient of the first fellowship awarded in the name of the late WBTV anchor Bob Knowles. I knew and admired Bob. I know and admire Vanessa.
I know more and more people who once worked in TV news who no longer watch – at all. You might think the people who run TV news would want to know why people like me and Vanessa have turned them off for good. They do not. Maybe if we got in a big screaming match they would care.
But as for me I would much rather maintain my friendship with Vanessa – ask about her husband and her daughters – than I would try to score points at her expense.
For that precise reason I think our conversation is both informative, exemplary and sadly rare. She told me she wouldn’t allow such a conversation to be recorded with anyone else. I do not take that trust – and her friendship – lightly.
VANESSA FAURA APPEARS ON THE @MANLISTENING PODCAST THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2021.