Mirta Ojito is an award-winning journalist and author who began her career in South Florida at The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald after earning a bachelor's degree in communication from Florida Atlantic University in 1986.
Ms.Ojito joined the staff of The New York Times in 1996; she was a member of the Times' reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for national reporting with a series titled "How Race is Lived in America." In 1999, she won a Distinguished Writing Award for foreign reporting from the American Society of Newspaper Editors for a series of stories about life in Cuba, her childhood home, which she had left at the age of 16 during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Her first book, Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus, was published in 2005 by The Penguin Press.
Ms. Ojito's work has been included in several anthologies, including To Mend the World: Women Reflect on 9/11 (White Pine Press, 2002), Written into History: Pulitzer Prize Reporting of the Twentieth Century from The New York Times (Henry Holt and Co., 2001), By Heart/De Memoria (Temple University Press, 2003) How Race is Lived in America (Times Books/Henry Holt and Co., 2001), and The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity (Columbia University Press, 2006).
Ms. Ojito, who earned her master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, has taught journalism at New York University, Columbia University and the University of Miami. In January of 2006, she joined the full-time faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University as an assistant professor.
In a talk in New York this week, the Cuban writer Leonardo Padura noted that though Americans went through a cha-cha-cha craze in the 1950s, they never did learn the correct name of the Cuban rhythm. They called it the “cha-cha,” dropping the last “cha.”
The year that just ended was a victorious one for gay rights, a turning point: The Supreme Court struck down a crucial portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, which led to an increase in the number of states that allow same-sex marriage — 18 and counting, with Utah being the most recent.
‘MAMBO KINGS’ AUTHOR
How does one define cubanía from 1,344 miles away?
A lot has changed since the first time I walked the halls of the United Nations building in this Swiss city in February 1988.
As if the dismal results of one election — Obama won, Romney lost — were not enough for the Republicans, here comes Round Two.
When I finished the manuscript Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town earlier this year, I was obsessively monitoring what was happening with the immigration reform bill and rewriting portions of my book’s epilogue until the editors pried it from my hands.
Two weeks ago, I caved in. I gave a fake name to a Starbucks employee. After years of not even pronouncing my name, but simply spelling it as if I were a robot from out of space — an alien after all — I gave myself a simple but pretty name that happens to have the same vowels as mine: Nina.
From the small screen of my iPad I glimpsed my city, and my heart sank. There was my barrio, Santos Suarez, in all its faded glory. A cruel shell of its old self. There was my old middle school in La Vibora. I think. It’s hard to tell, but I thought I recognized the mustard-colored walls and graceful arches of its cavernous hallways. Who knows? Lots of buildings in Havana have good bones, yellow walls and elegant touches.