Macarena Hernandez is a journalist and professor of humanities at the University of Houston-Victoria. Before participating in a panel on what immigration reform would mean for Houston, she talked in the Zócalo green room about how her refusal to write puff yearbook pieces launched her journalism career, and what Houston’s got over Dallas.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Raspas de chile con limón. They’re lemon and chili powder snow cones.
What are you keeping in your closet that you should have thrown out already?
Probably a pair of boots that have never been comfortable, but I paid too much money for them.
What’s your favorite thing about Houston?
I don’t live in Houston, but what I love about Houston is that you can walk out and eat food from all over the world, and you can get some of the best food in the city. And unlike Dallas, Houston is so celebratory about being so international.
What teacher or professor, if any, changed your life?
I had a professor in college, his name was Dr. Michael Bishop. He’s the one responsible for me becoming a journalist. I was on the yearbook staff, and he was the adviser. I didn’t want to write fluff features, and he said, “You’re in the wrong department; you shouldn’t be in the yearbook, you should be writing for the college newspaper.” And he gave me a scholarship because I still wasn’t convinced, and I realized I actually really loved reporting.
If you didn’t live in Texas, where would you be?
I would love to live in Mexico City, or maybe Chicago. I love the border, so I could live probably along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Where do you go to be alone?
These days, I go to the San Antonio River. I love rivers.
What do you wish you had the nerve to do?
Can you describe your singing in one sentence or one word?
Ana Gabriel. She’s a Mexican singer. But off-key.
What’s your favorite word or phrase?
These days, I kind of use, wah, wah, wah for when people are talking nonsense. I’m tired of it. Don’t want to hear it anymore. Anything that sounds empty for me is like, wah, wah, wah.
What’s something that very few people would know or expect about you?
I was a Sunday school teacher at my Baptist church, and as a teenager I had dreams about becoming a missionary.