An Abomination

I was recently on a trip with my family when my daughter started describing her future husband.

 "I'm going to marry a guy with dark skin, like a Mexican because their skin is beautiful. I want my kids to have amazing skin! I want him to also be a skater or at the minimum know how to kickflip. It'd be cool if he was a doctor so he could to take care of all my injuries, because you know I'm never going to stop skating."  Kendra, 11 years old

You see, I am always worrying that I am really messing my kids up, I often think to myself after a mom fail, I wonder if they will tell that {fill in current #momfail} to their therapist. Like most parents, I want my kids to have a strong sense of who they are and what they stand for. I often think of the quote "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything". I want them to be strong enough to disagree with someone and still be kind. I believe children today are afraid or very hesitant to disagree or make a stand about issues that may be unpopular. Me... shoot, I tell it like it is but I can also accept that someone doesn't believe the same way as I do and that's OKAY.

With all that said, it occurred to me that I hadn't shared my Meeting the Klan story with my family. Why did my daughters comment spark this memory? You have to be hiding under a rock not to see all the hateful comments regarding race, etc. in the news. I have lots of personal beliefs, most of which I do not share on this blog. I've always wanted to keep it an open platform for everyone and anyone that shares the same love I do for a good story. I don't care about the color of your skin, your religion and I especially do not care about your political platform (really don't so don't share, please). I'm just here trying to make it in life with a smile on my face and a snarky comment or two in my mind, you know just to level things out. I never claimed to be perfect.

I love to share stories, basically my entire life is one big plot twist. And yes, Lifetime you can make a movie about me. But seriously, who's life isn't a Lifetime movie?! We all have such unique experiences that shape our beliefs, values and who we are at the core. We all have stories to tell. Here is one of mine. 

The first time I met The Klan, as we like to call them here in the South, was when I was 9 years old. 

It is important that I give a brief history of myself so that you better understand where I fit. The fact of the matter is I, like most Americans, don't fit any race category. I am a mutt. My Mom is white (Caucasian, predominately European roots) and my father is Mexican, with a little Norwegian ancestry. Basically, I am a smidge less than half Mexican. My maiden name was Natalie Martinez and I had bright blonde hair, blue eyes and an incredible little tan.

By the age of 7 I had spent the majority of my life in California but had also had a two year leave to the beautiful beaches of Hawaii, where I attended kindergarten on the island of Oahu. I was a new big sister and oblivious to race. Here is what I did know: I had white hair, I wore a necklace that said Mexican Princess, my dad refused to teach me Spanish (still not over that one) and my grandparents (my mom's parents) were from Texas.

They were California transplants and took me every summer to stay in Texas. I loved it! I got to see my country cousins. But the summer of my eight birthday I found out I wasn't returning to my home in California. My parents were divorcing and my life was about to drastically change. The details to that story are for another time and place.

Fast forward a year.

I had been living in the small Texas town known as Vidor. At the time I didn't know it had a racist reputation, after all I was a child and probably wouldn't have cared. When I enrolled into school my mom was shocked to discover that they did not have a school code for me, I was classified as Hispanic. Of course they knew what Hispanics were but it was an all Caucasian district at the time. 

If you are waiting for the build-up for me to tell you how racist the kids or community were, you are going to be disappointed. Yes, Vidor is a small town and yes there are small minded people who reside there but I can honestly say that I had a very carefree childhood in that little town. Yes, everyone knew everyone's business but no one went without.

The Ku Klux Klan, also know and The KKK or simply, The Klan did not hang around our town but one day they decided to invade and have a Cross Burning that received national attention. 

Were there racist in Vidor? Of course, there are racist, small minded people in Vidor. They exist everywhere, in every town.

You see, most of the people of Vidor had spent a lifetime trying to erase the ties that bound that little town to racism. This rally was just another step backwards. But alas, one of those small minded people, allowed the KKK to use their property to host their rally and burning. It was quite literally at my front door. 

I remember cars lining the highway. I lived on the major highway, there were no neighborhoods at the time. My church also happened to be right next door to this rally. I remember church members placing ropes across our two entrances to stop anyone from trying to enter and park. Men from church sat in cars in the parking lot to keep watch and to make sure no one walked to our building looking for a bathroom or just plain mischief. And the rest of us did what any good Southerner would do, we sat out on our front porch and watched, my porch was the hot spot.

I remember all the police cars that started parking all over the place and even all in the woods that I would play in with my cousins. We were not allowed to play that weekend. I remember asking my mom what was happening and I will never forget her response.

Natalie, these people are here because they hate. They act in pure evil. 

By this time I had already learned what the KKK was and had been taught that they were small-minded men that thrived on contention, attention and hate. I knew that they hated people like me, a half-breed, but that they really hated Black people (we said Black then for African American and not in a derogatory context. We also called people White instead of Caucasian).

At nine years old I knew what it meant to be half-something. But a cool twist of events is that throughout my first year in Texas it had become cool among my cousins that I was a White-Mexican, as they called me. I never burned in the sun, I still had a different accent and my mom was the cool California Mom. I was totally fine being a half-breed, I was proud in fact. 
But I also knew that these people that were coming into town were different. You see I might be a half-breed but I looked white with a good tan. My brothers look more half-breed'ish, they have more of our Mexican genes. I've never had anyone mistake me for being a Mexican, it's always been the opposite.  I've almost had to pull out my ID just to prove that I am a Martinez!

My mom made a decision, one that was one of the best teaching moments of my young life.

After hearing the chanting of WHITE POWER for what felt like hours, I asked my mom when it would stop. She told me to get my shoes on because we were going closer.

She was going to walk me, with my little brother on her hip, down to the outskirts just past the church. She told me that we were going to witness what pure evil looked like and that we would feel what hate felt like. She also might have called them a lot of names... I still support her cursing remarks.

*WARNING: Now before I go on, if you are feeling appalled at the choice my mom made, stop reading and move on. My mom, my story. Go write your own story about how superior you are, I won't mind... I'm sure you've only made the best choices.

So we marched down the road to the very edge of all the madness. It was after 9pm and dark so no one really noticed us. You could only see each other from the massive flames of the ginormous cross. 

As I remember that moment.

Just seeing that large cross on fire left me with such nagging feeling that I physically moved closer to my mom. The cross was supposed to reflect Christ and these people looked anything but Christian or even friendly, in all honesty they just made me nervous. As I looked toward the cross, I saw what appeared to be a semi-circle of men (I'm assuming all men) dressed in their white outfits with their faces covered and their fists raised chanting still, WHITE POWER. 

Then a man took the center dressed in a very fancy costume with his face unveiled, they called him the Grand Dragon and I can't remember if he was in a red or blue outfit for the life of me. He started to speak to the crowd but we were to far away to hear anything.  

It was at this exact moment that my mom started to whisper to me what she had just previously said at the house but she didn't get to finish. A middle-aged man spotted us, he too was hidden in the woods. He took the opportunity to introduce himself and explained that he was standing in the outskirts to avoid the media camera's. He was a supporter and felt he had the privilege of mingling and making sure everyone was having a good experience but did not want to be captured on film.

This is where it gets good.

After this man shook my moms hand he examined my brother and me. He began to tell my mom how beautiful we were and how lucky she was to have such pure, beautiful children. At that moment I looked toward my mom and I was worried and remember thinking, Who was this guy? He likes all this yelling? Why was he talking to my mom?

After making sure my mom knew how fortunate she was, he went on to tell her the message of  "Redeeming the Dream" as that was the motto they were using for the rally. He handed her some pens and pencils for us to take home too, as a gift for coming. My mom placed them in her back pocket and the man carried on with his message of white purity. 

Oddly, I remember almost everything that man said that night. Before writing this I called my mom and told her how I remembered it, she said I was spot on followed by "that man was such an idiot".

After all the compliments regarding us beautiful, white children he went on to tell her that mixing races was an abomination. Marriages between races was an abomination. Children born of mixed races were abominations. The white race needed to band together and stop mixing with the impure. I've always hated the word abomination and I think it goes back to that very moment.  

My mom remained silent for the entire conversation. My mom remaining silent means one thing, she is LIVID. I knew this man was close to finding out just how pure she was feeling in her white skin. That did make me smile, and still does nearly 30 years later.

The only time I remember her speaking to that man was when she asked him if he lived in Vidor. He replied, with "oh no, none of us organizing this live here". 

My thoughts at that moment were something close to this: Good thing weird dude. If my mom found out you lived in this town you would be running to leave after she was done with you. 

Finally, the stranger opened the door and walked right into the swift justice that was my mom's wrath. He said, "Oh I didn't get your name" with his hand extended for a second time.

My mom didn't miss a beat. And she didn't extend her hand either. Her reply:

Well, the WHITE way is Martinez (Martin-ez). And the Mexican way is Martinez (emphasis on the i, Mart'ee'neZ).
You see these beautiful children you were talking to me about are my half-Mexican abominations. I am a trader to my race and had little abominations of my own. 

That man immediately turned on his heels without another word and took off. My mom looked down at me and said two words, Let's Go.

If fist bumping existed then I would have been pumping the air so hard. My mom verbally slapped that man and I was a proud little girl. Yea, I was an abomination. But at that moment, I knew I didn't believe in his dream and my mom made it clear she didn't either.


To My Children,
I want you to know that hating people for their heritage is wrong. Who and where you come from is a celebration of your uniqueness and you should cherish all the many "colors" that created you. If you bring home someone with black skin, dark skin or really white skin, it will not matter. 

Don't be mistaken, we will judge who you bring home. We will judge their character, their faith and their ability to love & cherish you as we do.
Don't settle, ever.
And to My Only Daughter, 
I'm sure your love story will be epic, just like you! If you find your Mexican, skater-doctor, he better have a strong handshake & only speak to your Papa in Spanish, that will surly win a father's approval. If you happen to fall in love with a white guy, it's cool too, after all your Papa is a pretty cool white dude.
And remember, Papa wanted to marry a Mexican and he ended up with his very own abomination. ;0)
He's pretty happy about it.
Momma, the woman that will always love you the most.

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