Univision anchor Calderón writes about race and her work as an Afro-Latina journalist in My Time to Speak (Atria, Aug.).
Did you have any idea when writing your book that this would be a time of such profound change?
Not at all. But I do think it’s a perfect time to tell my story. I’ve lived with racism in my country of origin [Colombia] and now here in the U.S.
You write about being excluded from TV casting calls in Colombia.
The fact that I was the only anchor not initially invited to audition and I was the only Black woman tells you everything about a society that believes a person of dark skin cannot be the main anchor on TV. Growing up as kids in Colombia we never saw Blacks in important roles on television.
Were you surprised by prejudice in the U.S.?
I knew of racism in the United States from reading books. When I Interviewed the Ku Klux Klan leader [in North Carolina] he made strong racist remarks. But racism is often the way people look at you; they tell you with body language that you’re not welcome. Those types of attitudes exist in every society.
What was your most challenging assignment?
Cohosting the 2020 Democratic presidential debate. English is not my first language, and I had only three days to prepare because my coanchor Jorge Ramos was unable to attend.
How did you decide which stories to include in your memoir?
I chose those places and people that have made a “before” and an “after” in my life—like meeting a little girl in the caravan at the border or witnessing the protests in Puerto Rico before the governor’s resignation.
Was writing this difficult?
Yes, very. I’ve never had such a deep trip inside my memory; as I wrote I realized how often I’ve chosen to bury discrimination six feet under.
What inspired the title?
I’m a shy person. Everybody thinks because I work in TV I’m extroverted, but I never talk about my life in the way I was able to write about my life.
You discuss your marriage to your husband, who is Korean American, and giving birth to your daughter, who is now seven. How is it raising a multiracial child now?
She sees the protests on the street. I don’t hide all the information, but we’re careful. We don’t want her to feel afraid—we want to empower her and instill a respect for others. As early as age four, she heard racist comments from other children. There are phrases and racial stereotypes that children learn at home and they repeat. That is something that we all as a society need to work on.