Carlos Martinez moved to the Diocese of Green Bay from Oregon in 2015. Originally from Mexico, Carlos lives with his wife and children in Gresham where his family attends St. Francis Solanus Catholic Church.
You don’t see no Mexicans around here. I haven’t seen another one in four years at the church. I’m the only Spanish guy in church. But people are friendly. They say, “Hi Carlos, how you doing? How’s your day going?” I feel welcome in my church here. When we first came here, people would say, “Welcome to the church. Where are you from?” They seemed interested in getting to know us.
I have not experienced discrimination at church. No one has treated me poorly, at least not yet. People have not said anything to me. Maybe people say things behind my back, but I don’t think so because people know me and they treat me good. They invited me to make dumplings and I have helped every year.
If there was a Spanish Mass nearby, I’d go, but to me, it’s all the same, it makes no difference to me. When I was in Oregon, there were Spanish Masses, but we still went to the English Masses. Even when I got married, the priest asked if I understood English. He asked if I wanted the deacon to marry us, since the deacon spoke Spanish, and I said no, I want the priest to marry us. I’ve been here almost 30 years and my culture is as much American as it is Mexican.
When I came to Oregon, I always worked with American people. I never got a job with the Spanish guys. People would ask me, “You went to school? How did you learn to speak English?” I said I just picked it up on the street. I came to the U.S. on September 1, 1990, and that December, I started working with a lady on her horse farm. She didn’t speak one word of Spanish, and I didn’t speak one word of English. So I just started to figure it out, and I worked with her for six to seven years. So in my time here, I’ve just learned to adapt and try to fit in.
I’ve experienced discrimination at work before. One person in particular has been mean. We’re both hired men, but he acts like he’s better than me because he’s worked longer than me. One time he kicked me in the leg and gave me a big bruise. I told him, “I never do anything to you.” I call that discrimination. That day I feel really like a dog. I felt angry, like I should punch him, but if I had, there probably would have been a double standard in how we were treated – me a Mexican and him an American.
People should be treated the same way. We should work together. Like Jesus says, “Everyone’s my brother and my sister.” If you’re my brothers and sisters, why aren’t we treating each other this way? If you’re brown or you’re black or you’re white, we still have the same color blood, so we should be treated the same way. C’mon, we’re all brothers and sisters. If you gotta problem, I’ll help you. If I gotta problem, somebody help me. That’s the way we should do it.