My mother is German and English, at least third generation American born, and my father is Cuban, first generation born. Much of my life I tried to identify with my Cuban side, because that is the side that people cannot usually physically see, especially according to stereotypes of what Latina’s look like. I was envious of people whose skin was darker than my own and developed hatred toward my own skin color. I wanted so badly to be seen as also Cuban and not have to prove through my easily tanned skin and last name that at home I had an abuela who would visit for a month at a time, speak Spanish, talk our ears off in broken English, laugh constantly, and cook picadillo and black beans and rice. When I was invited to a special graduation for Latina college graduates, I cried on the phone to my dad saying that I felt like they just sent me the invite because of my last name, Martinez, and that when they saw me, they wouldn’t want me there.
My dad reassured me that my blood was Cuban, and that I resembled my abuela in the way I danced and through my love for life and others. After graduation, I moved to Ecuador, South America, and it was there that I was forced to confront my hatred of my skin color, which had become a habitual hating look at my arm since the 7th grade. I was surrounded by people who were darker than me and confronted the reality of who I was, a beautiful blend of two cultures and ethnicities. God started to heal me during this time and change my perspective toward my skin color from one of envy and hatred to thankfulness. Over time in the almost 10 years since that time, I have engaged in many experiences where I have had the opportunities to live and work with other multiracial individuals, in whose stories I heard my own for the first time. Now, though I still struggle at times when people continue to ask questions, seeking for a way for me to prove my identities, I am also thankful for opportunities to engage in conversations that might help educate others about how people are not always, more often usually, who you think they are – there is more to all of us than you can see. I have become more proud of who I am, all of who I am, embracing it.