- Posted May 4, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
President’s immigration plan: Your views
The "white" Mexican
“I always felt like I was too good to be an illegal immigrant,” said the Azusa, California, resident. “The reason behind that was I spoke perfect English. I got good grades in high school I played sports. I was your typical American kid, so why is that one piece of paper stopping me from saying I’m an American?”
Martinez is from a mixed-status family; his brother and parents are now legal residents. After President Obama's executive order in 2012 allowing children who had entered the country illegally to remain and work without fear of deportation, Martinez applied for and was granted deferment.
Read David's story on CNN.com
- zdan, CNN iReport producer
My name is David Martinez, I was born in Jerez, Zacatecas Mexico. When I was just 3 months old I was smuggled by my aunt into the United States. Only 3 months dictated whether I would have been a U.S. Citizen. 3 small months of what could have completely changed my life.
Growing up in Azusa, which is predominantly Hispanic/Latino, I always fit in and never though about race until I got to middle school. That's the first time I remebered being called "Huero" and "Whiteboy", because of my white/light skin and green eyes. At this age I remembered being lost in my culture, yes I knew I was Mexican, but part of me was embarrassed. Because my parents didn't speak English i was always trying to avoid conversation with them in front of my friends. I was "too cool" to be associated with being "Hispanic". And I now know this was the case with lots of my friends, and its in part because of the way the american culture has brought us up. We were all searching to fit it and not be associated with the Hispanic culture because it was seen as "un cool" or a "outsider". I can even remember if you played soccer in middle school you were called a "beaner", funny enough it was other Hispanic/Latin kids using that word. And it was because growing up there were 2 classes: regular hispanics/latinos or as I would call them the "Americanized", and the "Biener" Hispanics/Latinos who were still strong in culture, mainly lived in lower poverty areas, and spoke mainly Spanish with some broken English.
I'll admit that I was one of those people who wanted to be associated with the more "American" kids so I always went along. It is something I fully regret and wish I never had a part in. Sadly it was considered the norm, and transitioned into high school. Freshman year is when I first found out I was undocumented. I was waiting for registration and when the clerk was going through my paper work she asked if i knew my social security and I told her I'd get it from my mom later. When I got home my parents had told me about my "story". I remember feeling ashamed of myself, that I was one of them a "beaner". I mean how could someone like me who looks white be an illegal immigrant? I started looking at things differently. I realized that I would NOT be getting my driver license at 16, I would not be getting a summer job to make money. Through out high school I was always careful about what I said in my circle of friends. When my friends would talk about vacations to other countries I would feel so left out, I hated hearing them because it would bring me down. I wished that I had been born here. I wish I had been a US citizen.
I eventually learned to deal with it. You could either dwell on it or deal with it. I chose the latter. At 17 I got my first job working at a Video store and it helped me feel more "normal" more "American" even though I couldn't drive still. After I graduated I started driving without a license. I had no choice I had to get to work school. So it was a constant fear of being pulled over every time I was behind the wheel. When most people were excited to drive and couldn't wait to get behind the wheel. I felt the opposite, yes there was some excitement but that quickly faded when you realized the risks you ran. Being pulled over meant a ticket, your car being towed, money fixing them all. As months went on you still felt pressure and stress whenever a police vehicle got behind you, that's one thing that never went away. When I was 21 I got into a minor accident where I made a small dent on an older man's car. When I pulled over I just remember wanting to disappear or be dead. My heart sank and I was scared out of my mind. I called my dad who came over quickly with my uncle. As I waited the man Insulted me and when I had no license he flipped cursing me and calling me every name on the book. After that accident I was even more cautious when I drove.
Being 25 now I have learned a lot and I have come to love where I come from and proud of my culture and heritage. To this day I'm still asked what ethnicity I am and when I tell them I'm Mexican they just look at me in confusion and ask if I speak Spanish and when I respond in Spanish their face is priceless. I've had cases where people talk smack in spanish and when I reply to them its pretty funny. When people now ask me where I am from, I say I'm Mexican. Not hispanic or latino. Then they ask what part of Mexico. I have nothing against being called Hispanic or Latino, however since there are so many countries I prefer to just be more precise.
There is a lot more to this story but I'll keep it short. Thanks for reading! P.S. I'm the one on the right In the picture.