*I am Sam Martinez, born a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent in El Paso, Texas. My father and mother were born in New Mexico and California, respectively in the 1920s. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in 1848, moved the U.S. border from as far north as Wyoming and Oregon, as far east as a portion of present-day Kansas, down to the Rio Grande, making tens of thousands of Mexicans into U.S. citizens.
Five generations on my father’s side were born in the New Mexico area once Mexico. My DNA indicates I am 70% of the Iberian Peninsula and Native American. The remaining percentage reflects nomadic survival from Africa, Europe, Polynesia, and Asia. The soup de jour resulted in brown skin I wear proudly.
I, nor my family and Hispanic friends are breeding invaders, rapists, murderers, drug traffickers, gang members, or thugs. When Trump began his campaign stating Mexicans were rapists, murderers, or drug traffickers, I did not object as that applies to any race or nationality. Telling, was when he said, “And some (Mexicans), I assume, are good people.”
I’m saddened Trump has not taken the opportunity to know good Mexicans when born and raised in New York City surrounded by about three million Mexican Americans; many whom worked for him. Then registered as a Republican, I became a “Never Trumper” before his insult that Indiana born Judge Gonzalo J. Curiel could not be impartial because of his Mexican ancestry. Mexicans and Mexican Americans contribute to the principles that distinguish the United States among nations.
I grew up in a mixed low-income neighborhood that supported children playing outdoors as our afterschool program until dinnertime or darkness. Although there were no sleepovers then, of friends two or three years within my age, I recall eating snacks, lunch or dinner in their homes as they did in mine.
I remember asking my parents for a two-dollar baseball glove so I could join a team. They told me they didn’t have it. I shined shoes, mowed lawns, picked cotton and potatoes, had a paper route, washed windows, and sold Spud-nuts and soda pop bottles earning money for my family and me. On my 16th birthday, FW Woolworth hired me as a stock boy. I kept that job through college before joining the U.S. Navy.
My first recollection of discrimination was when a teacher blamed and punished me instead of my friend with fair skin who had locked a gate preventing her class from returning from the school playground. He received no punishment other than our shame. Once while in the Navy, walking back to my ship at night, as I passed three sailors, one called me a “f-ing Mexican.” I thanked them, which precipitated a chase ending with me getting beat up.
I returned to El Paso after my service in the Navy to finish my accounting degree on the G.I. Bill. In my senior year, I received a postcard from the FBI stating their interest in hiring accountants. From 1973-1999, I rectified many injustices against American citizens.
In 1979, I stepped forward, helping the FBI adhere to our constitutional vision, by joining 310 other Hispanic agents in filing and winning a discrimination lawsuit against the FBI. Testifying against our country’s FBI was eviscerating as if breaking from religion. I broke into tears on the stand. Special Agent Bob Abegglen teared up apologizing for recruiting me and what had happened. Forty years later, the nuances of discrimination continue to warrant conversations recognizing discrimination as an evil artery.
Brown in color, I’ve got skin in this game. #ELPASOSTRONG”
The election of Trump motivating fear, proposing anti-government anti-Constitutional sentiments, denigrating immigrants, and his inciteful rhetoric is troublesome. In Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump joined his flock in applause and cheers with the idea to shoot immigrants. Religious, justice, and political leaders remained silent. Five months later, Walmart customers in El Paso became targets of hate influenced to kill invading immigrants without verifying citizenship.
An international community assembled in giving blood, water, money, food, support, education, while some risked lives helping others. Donors didn’t ask if their blood was going to Americans, Mexicans, or Germans.
The President brands administrative policy as Clorox is to bleach or Hershey is to chocolate. His marketing has left white Americans in fear of losing their jobs, women, future, or welfare to immigrants, although a Department of Labor report disapproved the perception that immigrants take American jobs, the Social Security Administration estimated undocumented workers paid $100 million in taxes within a decade, or reports of artificial intelligence and automation are displacing jobs. Economic policy is needed, not fear.
Media hosts intensify his cynical outlook on women, people of color, religion, or countries while religious and party leaders remain silent, leaving many astonished. Tucker Carlson called women primitive, labeled people of a country illiterate monkeys, and declared immigrants make America poorer and dirtier.
When wrapping oneself in the American flag in “them and us” mentality, one believes the other side hates America, and actions against them are urgently righteous. The whole becomes fractured and insensitive to facts that U.S. citizens of color are being arrested in the anxiety. Shallow speech enables the sloth to look down on others and those that remain silent grant permission.
While Trump downplays his influence of encouraging division while adding, “I could really tone it up” on language against nonwhites, the threats of angry white men with assault weapons mounts. He assured the public of good people in the Charlottesville group shouting, “Jews will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend,” “the south shall rise again,” “blood and soil.” His disparate treatment is evident in assuming some Mexicans goods while affirming white extremists good.
Gun assaults are un-Christian and un-American, as is the art of persuasion to kill others. Lumping immigrants, Mexicans, blacks, Muslims, or any ethnic group with negative annotations is bigotry. Denigrating the press, our judicial system, or our government is an attack on the spirit of our Constitution.
Any Commander-in-Chief will fail to divide us. Our Constitution is the guardianship of abiding parents, principals, pastors, and its people seeking life, liberty, and happiness.
I’ve traveled the world of many languages. I know no people in any country better than Americans capable of overcoming the evil of discrimination and division through our participation, love, and light. Brown in color, I’ve got skin in this game. #ELPASOSTRONG
Samuel C. Martinez, an author of
Systemic Evil, Mat Perez vs the FBI
retired after 26 years serving in domestic and
foreign Legal Attaché offices as an FBI agent