Gabe Martinez, a senior public health major from LaGrange, Georgia, shared part of his story about connecting with his Hispanic heritage at the September 20, 2023 convocation highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month.
These are his prepared remarks:
My name is Gabriel Martinez and I’m a first generation senior public health major. Since I can remember, I’ve struggled with my identity and heritage. I’ve always known I’m Mexican and from Mexican descent because of my parents but I never truly knew who I was. My identity has always been challenged by people, primarily white, around me and by my extended Mexican family, whether we were close or not. Being told “you’re not Mexican!’ by some of my family and then being yelled at by “true Americans” saying “you’re not American” left me unsure of myself. That’s why to this day, I question everything I do and have done.
Growing up in a small southern town, I was one of few Hispanics, so racism was a common part of my everyday life. Even though I was born in the United States, I wasn’t seen as an “American”. Just another little brown boy who was probably from god knows where…anywhere but here.
It wasn’t until about three years ago that I finally started to accept my identity with no care in the world. Thanks to the amazing community that Goshen has given me and to all of my friends here, I can finally say with a proud heart, soy Mexicano! I am Mexican! Yeah, I know I’m Mexican-American, but it’s because of my Mexican heritage I am who I am.
I was Mexican then, I’m Mexican now, and I will always be Mexican. Viva México!