marta v. martínez
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marta v. martínez

I live in Warwick, Rhode Island, work in Providence and am of Mexican heritage. I'm bilingual and bicultural — I don’t remember ever having a problem communicating in either language, and find it to be a great asset. I read, write and speak English and Spanish equally. Equally well or equally badly: that’s for others to decide.

I spent 9 years in Washington, DC surrounded by Deaf individuals while working at Gallaudet University, and so I'm also fluent in Sign Language, which I guess makes me trilingual.

I grew up in El Paso, Texas with my parents, four sisters and brother. While a Junior in high school, I felt a strong desire to explore the world, and while applying to various colleges I realized that studying in another state would be a perfect way to fulfill that desire. That’s how I ended up at Providence College. It turned out to be a life-changing move, yet oftentimes while I was there I felt lonely and out-of-place.

My dream was to become a television Journalist, but, since PC did not have a Broadcast Journalism major, I chose to be an English major. While there, I was exposed to many talented scholars and writers on the PC campus, who might have become my mentors had they been able to understand what it was like to be a displaced Latina.

An internship opportunity came up to work in television (local ABC station, WPRI TV-12) during my Junior year at PC. I spent the last two years of my college experience there, and was hired full-time when I graduated (woo-hoo!) However, during that time I was the only person of color and only Latina, and I never felt quite in place.

After two years at the station, I decided that Broadcast Journalism was not the profession I wanted to pursue after all. What that experience taught me was that working behind the scenes was more powerful than being in front of a camera.

What do I mean by that? Well, I realized that being behind the scenes gave me more control to make change. It gave me the edge to having a bird’s-eye-view of things – to see things from both the perspective of a user and of a producer. Not everyone has that access or to be part of ‘the making,’ where everyone in the room has time to talk, reflect, work together to create something or to find a solution. If you're in front of a camera, you are handed a script and can't always be yourself, your true self. What I have learned is that you can't do this alone, you can't just follow a script, but that you need a team with you and behind you, to make true change.

Today, the skills I have harnessed from being behind the scenes has made me who I am and it has influenced the work I do.

I am also a Community Oral Historian, an experience that came about organically when I moved to Rhode Island in 1991. Collecting the stories and voices of Rhode Island Latinos has become incredibly important to me because we, as Latinos, rarely are given the opportunity to share our history and to tell our story — if we don't tell our own story, no one else will and if we don't tell our own story, somebody else will. We cannot allow that because our stories are ours and they are so valuable.

This project has given me hope that our younger generations has the opportunity to learn about all the successes that Latino/Latina/Latinx individuals have had in this country. My hope is that they hear through these recorded oral histories the whole history of the Latinx community, and that they understand how celebrating our diversity makes us stronger, keeps us whole, and that you-we-they are a significant part of the now and future of this nation.

Camera in hand. In 2015, I set out to explore borders through the lens of a camera. I traveled for 15 months around the country with two cameras, multiple lenses, and an audio recorder at hand to document and record the stories of people, places and life in five border cities. This website documents these trips. This is where I reflect and write about how borders have shaped and continue to shape who I am today.
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