Tara Martinez: Why I Race

Tara Martinez pictured with her daughter and mother.

Over the last few years I have been invited to sit at the table for the discussion and action of racial justice here in the mountain state. I grew up in a very rural town in West Virginia as a transplant from Oklahoma. I also grew up under the protection and privilege of having a very Caucasian last name and looking for the most part like I belonged. But, I grew up as a very white Chicana in a town with limited diversity. Most folks thought of me as white, most at the minimum considered me bi-racial. I of course met some instances of racial slurs, but in my rebellious cantankerousness, would give as good as I got.

I wasn’t until my 20’s when I was able to accept the full identity of my family’s culture that I began delving into my Mexican culture. This also opened my eyes to the lack of diversity in our state. The lack of conversation around racial equality and the lack of racial justice.

As I began working in our state government and following a path of social justice closely entwined in my advocacy is the discussion of racial justice. In my career path and search for connection to my heritage in WV as a Chicana I began finding acceptance in groups, such as, the Women of Color group associated with the WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I also found a place to tell my story of searching for my identity as an advocate for women and minorities at the first Race Matters summit in 2014.

From that point I have been invited to many activities from helping to train our Charleston Police to the honor of serving on the Race to End Racism committee. This discussion is important because there are other kids growing up in rural West Virginia searching to be accepted and part of the conversation as their true self. I am a part of this discussion because I am raising a strong little Chicana in West Virginia. She will never wonder about her heritage out of fear. She will always know that All Kinds Are Welcome. She is my number one reason I Race Against Racism.

To join Tara and YWCA Race to End Racism, go to www.ywcacharleston.org/race and sign up to walk or run individually, create team or become sponsor.

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