Bonus Episode: Giving Voice to Racism, Intergenerational Trauma, and Health Inequity in America

In this powerful episode, Claudia shares her lived experience of racism, intergenerational trauma, and health inequity. She discusses her healing journey, and the need for people to share their stories.

Claudia Martinez, Crisis Intervention Specialist

Claudia Martinez has over 25 years of experience in healthcare.  Claudia feels that she has been blessed with the ability to communicate in English and Spanish and she comes with a very diverse background.  Unfortunately, she has had to face many challenges one of them is discrimination which is why Claudia is here today to hell her story in hopes of encouraging others to speak out.

Episode Transcript

CASAT Podcast Network

Hello and welcome to season three of CASAT Conversations.

I am your host, Heather Haslem.

This season we will explore the weighty topic of health equity.

Within each conversation, we will discover insights from researchers, practitioners and experts on this complex and important topic.

We hope you enjoy today’s conversation on today’s episode of CASAT conversation.

We have Claudia Martinez.

Claudia is a crisis intervention support specialist with Crisis Support Services of Nevada.

Welcome Claudia.

We are delighted to have you here today.

Hello, thank you for having me.

So, Claudia, as we get started, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, you know, born and raised in California, I come from a very diverse background, you know, so that that goes back to, you know, we have my mom African American Filipina.

My dad Mexicano, you know, just a little bit of you know, again, my background been in health care now in the mental health bill and I’m really excited to be here to be able to share my experiences today.

Mm Thanks Claudia.

What does health equity mean to you?

So for me, health equity, what stands out is equity?

I think we all have right to equal health care.

Okay, we all have a right to be healthy but more important in that aspect, we all have a right to equal health care and for me that’s huge and tell us a little bit more about why that’s huge or what that means to you.

Well, you know, as I mentioned, my background, you know, so my background, I mean as far as my cultural background, you know, as I mentioned, I have, you know, my dad is is Mexicano and I feel regardless of our age race where we’re from, we have access to equal health care needs.

I feel regardless of our immigration status, we should all have access to just simply be healthy and not have to be denied health care because we are in this country illegally.

Mm.

And I’m curious what has been your own personal experience with health equity?

Well, not me personally.

But I guess in regards to that, you know, I have my family, as I mentioned, um, some illegal, there’s times when, you know, health care needs to be addressed health care, you know, family members sick, they’re not able to receive the health care that they need because they don’t qualify for health insurance because they’re illegal in the country.

Um, for my background, I come, you know, health care.

I’ve been in health care for Over 20 years and one of my roles at one point was working as a patient advocate and I had the opportunity of working with individuals that are in the country illegally.

They don’t qualify for any type of assistance because they’re illegal.

Sure there may be some government funded programs that they may qualify for if it’s a life or death situation in their eyes, it’s a life or death situation.

But in the eyes of others applying for this assistant at times they don’t qualify for it because they’re not experiencing that loss of limb.

So it leads them back to they’re not eligible or if they’re eligible, it’s very limited.

It may cover only the hospital, you know stay, it doesn’t cover the ongoing treatment that they need.

It doesn’t cover you know, again the medications that they need and they’re still having to cover for doctor’s visits, X ray, radiology, things of that nature.

And I don’t know about you heather but that that can be pretty costly.

I mean nobody has that kind of money.

I certainly don’t.

So that’s kind of been my experience with that.

Well and it sounds also like you know, it’s they can gain access if it’s a life or death situation.

But when we talk about health and promotion of health, um we know that access to care is one critical component of long term health outcomes.

So even just not being able to go for an annual visit then makes it more difficult for long term health.

Yes, exactly.

For that preventative care.

I mean, you know, they just don’t have that access.

You know, so when one doesn’t have access to that preventative care, it ends up turning into something bigger than what it should.

You know, for example, you can’t if one has diabetes, They can’t go to the doctor, they can’t afford that $150 per visit.

You know, they can’t go in there, they can’t afford for those, they can’t afford those annual exams, those labs.

Um, it’s it’s very expensive and it’s very unfortunate.

So they end up in the hospital, you know, uncontrolled diabetes and again, they end up, you know, with this bill that they can afford.

So it’s just a very unfortunate situation.

And for me, it it shouldn’t be that way.

I I really I feel we should all equally have access to be healthy.

Mhm.

It also sounds to me like there’s fear in accessing the healthcare system for fear of being deported for people who are in the United States immigrants.

Yes, exactly.

That is part of the reason why a lot of the times, you know, they, from my experience, they’re afraid to seek medical attention.

And there put in a situation where they basically need to choose to pay, you know, their rent, their bills or pay for their health.

And again, it shouldn’t be that way.

We all play a very important role in our country.

In one way or another.

You know, we all deserve to have equal access to be healthy.

Thank you.

Um, you know, as we talk about different scenarios that impact health, some of those elements we know are racial and intergenerational trauma.

And so let’s start with racism.

How has racism impacted you.

So before we we get into that, I just you don’t want to let you know that this is something very, you know, hard for me to talk about.

And so just to let you know, um it’s more of a warning.

So here we go.

So we all know racism is out there and very real.

Um and unfortunately I am also a survivor of this.

So my personal experiences have broken me and it’s very unfortunate because I never really, I knew it was there, but I I never really realized until it happened to me and just to try to be silenced and never speak on it while I’m speaking on it now and I’m very proud to speak on it.

My experiences have been arranged anywhere from simply walking into a store automatically assuming that I’m, you know, going out of their way to let me know up front.

Hey, we don’t accept EBT.

Cards here from that too in a workplace.

And just the comments, the look of disgust as I walked by and more importantly, the very hurtful comments.

And then when it’s brought to the attention of HR supervisor, it’s more of a oh you gotta learn to just get over it, get over it and making me believe that it’s something my fault almost to the point.

No, not almost to the point to where I’m like ashamed of who I am ashamed for my skin color.

And I remember at one point thinking all right, you know, well maybe if I lighten my makeup, you know, maybe I won’t look as dark as I do made by then will be accepted.

Mhm.

And I mean, it’s very unfortunate to feel that way to feel to the point where I’m actually looking at my skin, just trying to figure out a way.

I mean, I remember at times, you know, just the whole pulling out my skin because I was not, I was ashamed of my skin color.

I mean, I wanted to fit in so bad.

I wanted to be accepted and you know, it’s something we all still struggle with.

You know, and I’ve come to the point now where there’s nothing wrong with me, there’s nothing wrong with the way I look and I’m no longer going to keep quiet about this.

There’s nothing wrong.

I’m very proud of who I am, my background, but just for somebody to be able to judge somebody or feel they have the right to judge somebody and to treat them the way they treat them, it’s just wrong, it’s wrong.

Mhm.

But yeah, that’s, that’s just some of my experiences and this is something that I’ve experienced my entire life.

I’ve never realized what was happening.

I never realized it until recently.

I have my grandchildren, my Children, my family, and I’m like, and I’m keeping quiet because I’m afraid to speak up.

I’m afraid of how damaging this can be to me, but I have to do it.

I’m doing it.

Mhm and that’s where I am now and I just want to thank you for showing up and for sharing your story, your experience and raising awareness about the impact of racism on you personally.

I have a question about you talked about, you know, in the workplace, you’ve um experience comments and in the context of raising awareness about comments that are hurtful.

Would you be able to or be willing to share maybe a couple of those comments that kind of stick out in your mind that have stuck with you?

Well, one comment was Mexicans are lazy now for one we all know that’s not true.

Um No, that was one comment, I think that is the comment that broke me right there.

That was the comment.

And again, I when I brought it to the attention of my employer, it was like you have to learn to get over it and that right there.

I just that sticks with me and in my mind, not in my mind.

So from there I decided you know what, this is not okay.

So I decided you know what, I’m going to file a complaint, you know, but I’m going to back up here because after that was after I approached my employer, I quit on the spot.

I was like, no this is not okay.

But prior to that, when that comment was made, I had filed a complaint and I never followed through with it because that was the only woman of color, nobody was gonna believe me, there was no way of proving it.

And I was afraid again, nobody who’s going to believe the brown girl, the only brown girl in the office.

Nobody’s gonna believe me.

So that was the comment that was me.

And I just also want to share something else whether there was as I stated, I started the complaint process and I had didn’t fall through and I have recently, you know, they were mailing I received you know male and just recently I decided you know what, it’s time to go in that drawer and pull that paperwork out because I had it tucked away.

I was so afraid to open that door.

I mean it was I never opened that drawer up until about a week ago and I did it.

I opened that drawer and I looked at the paperwork and I was able to sit with it for a while.

That yeah, that was again, that was a comment that was made.

The feedback I received and what what broke me.

I just want to pause for a moment and honor the heaviness of what you shared.

I mean, the fact that you felt like you had to quit on the spot really just for your own survival to protect yourself and the shame and the fear right that you’ve experienced um of my kids.

All I kept thinking was, wow sorry when I talk about this, I shiver.

So I’m so I’m literally shivering right now.

But back to this, my main concern was my kids.

What’s going to happen if I follow through with this?

So I was so afraid my kids, my husband and it’s no fair that I have to live in fear for something that is no fault of my own.

So yeah, but I mean I am very proud of myself for pulling that paperwork out again and it’s dusted off and it’s sitting there on top in that drawer and I make sure I open that door at least every other day.

And that is for me, that’s for me.

Mhm.

You mentioned your kids um and I know from speaking with you before that your kids are always on your heart living in a predominantly wait community.

Um that there’s things that concern you about your kids because of the color of your skin.

Can you share what kind of weighs on you or what thoughts go through your mind in the form of protecting your kids?

Yes.

When you know when they’re out hanging out with other friends?

Yes.

Like most of the time, my oldest son is the only way of color and he’ll mention to me, yeah.

You know, we went and walked our friend home female.

Me and all my friends will say maybe about eight or nine other other males, white males.

And again, my boy is the only one of color.

It scares me because if something would have happened to the only white female there, my son is going to have that target on his back.

They are going to believe, I mean, who are they going to believe?

They’re not going to believe my son over the other white males.

My son is gonna have that target on his back and be blamed for it.

Nobody’s gonna believe him.

And that is, there’s no if ands or buts that is that is what would happen.

Nobody can convince me otherwise and it’s so scary.

It is the scariest feeling ever.

But those, that, that’s my concern even now he’s older, but I have to remind him, be careful when you’re out.

Please understand what I’m seeing.

Be smart about what you’re doing.

I can’t tell you what to do.

I understand you’re an adult, but just hear me out.

Racism is real.

Please be mindful of what you’re doing, who you’re hanging out with, the types of activities you engage in and as we really talk about the impact of racism on health, I’m curious what you feel in your own body as the impact of carrying that constant level of worry and fear.

What is the impact on your own personal health, um, anxiety in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

I I just really don’t, I again, I can’t explain the feeling, but it’s always the constant fear that my son or myself or any of us can end up dead or seriously injured hurt.

Even my friend, my first night when we moved into our new home, our neighborhood, we didn’t know anybody here.

I was so afraid.

We were going to fit in.

I was afraid and you know over time we got to know the neighbors and we’re fine, everybody’s fine.

Everybody gets along, we’re friends of the neighbors.

But at the beginning that was my and my only concern, what are we gonna fit in?

Are we going to fit in that neighborhood?

Don’t, don’t play that Spanish music out loud, don’t talk Spanish outside, only talk english or talk low.

So fear.

Mhm I’m also aware of the impact of intergenerational trauma.

So your family has experienced this for generations as well as other traumas, how has intergenerational trauma impacted you.

My mom definitely has experienced some form of discrimination.

My dad is more as Mexicano but he’s more fair skin, very fair skin.

So my mom, as I mentioned, she’s African American and Filipino.

She had a hard time fitting in like she wasn’t black enough to hang around with the African American crowd.

You know, so she was always, I remember her telling me stories of being called an Oreo.

I remember that those are things that stick with me.

I remember her telling me at work, she answers the phone and they come in and they’re just surprised to see a woman of color in the office.

So again these are things that have stuck with me.

I remember her going into stores and not being waited on the store is empty and then have somebody else come in, a white lady come in and they attend to her almost immediately.

So those are just a few of the things that I remember that stand out mm And I know in the work that you do, you’re working with people who experience trauma and I’m curious how hearing their stories sometimes impacts you as well or if they do, they should say um it’s more of a I opener for me mm can be triggering to me when I hear these stories but all that makes me want to do is to get up and fight to be able to give back to them to be able to provide them with the resources that they need.

So they can stand up fight for theirselves.

But it’s very hard at times and that’s my goal.

That’s the road that I’m on, the path that I’m on right now.

I want to be able to do, I want to be able to provide the help that they need, that I needed to provide them with the guidance, the resources that they need and to provide them with the strength that they need so they can stand up and speak like I am today.

And what are some of the things or resources help supports um that are required.

Like whether some of the things that are out there that are supportive and what our needs that you see that aren’t being met.

Yeah.

Um you know it’s very hard as far as resources right now.

I just kind of each person is unique in their own way.

Um You know there’s at times when I’ve referred people to the and double A.C.P.

So that’s a big one right there.

Um I noticed that I see it more in certain states.

Um And it’s it’s very hard because a lot of the times I get you know nobody’s going to believe me, nobody’s going to believe me.

Nobody is um helping me and I won’t call out certain states But there is one state and I knew she was right like I was but I just would remind people in general these are the resources.

Um It’s a long fight.

Don’t give up.

How how do you think that we can heal racial trauma?

Gosh I mean speaking on it um and that’s what’s or is you speak on it and you are, people want to silence us.

So it’s a very bumpy road.

It really is and it comes with a lot of hurt but so much it takes so much out of you.

You know um Speak on it, stand up for yourself.

But the most important part for me is just speaking on it.

Don’t stay silent anymore.

Don’t give them what they want that’s what they want.

They want us to stay quiet.

They want us to stay in the corner scared no not no more and so how do you feel today?

Using your voice to share your experience?

So yeah.

Well, at this exact moment I’ve officially stopped shivering and I feel a small amount of hope.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen from here.

I don’t know.

Mhm.

And we can’t know what will happen from here.

Yeah.

It’s racism.

Discrimination is real.

It’s out there and it just gets worse every single day.

I mean, there’s not one day that I can open up my social media and some sort of discrimination, racism out there is happening.

There’s every single day multiple times throughout the day.

It’s to a point where I can’t even I mean, I can’t keep up with it.

You know, at one point I would just close it out and sweep it under the rug because I couldn’t deal with it.

I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

I was still trying to I guess I was still in denial of what was really happening.

Mhm.

But I am proud of the progress that we’re making.

There is some progress.

People are standing up for themselves and that brings me joy.

It really does well.

And my hope is that having this conversation on this platform helps to raise awareness of the impacts of racism and what people may be doing, that they don’t even know that they’re doing.

But I wholeheartedly believe we need to be having open and honest conversations about experience and learn how to listen from an open heart to one another.

And it’s without hearing someone’s experience noticing how it lands what feelings it brings up, what judgments it brings up.

And that all requires quite a bit of self awareness.

But it’s that deep learning how to practice deep listening.

It is my hope that that is what helps us to heal.

Because I believe people using their voices, right?

It helps generally to help maybe alleviate some of the weight of what we’ve been carrying with us.

Um As well as feel that hope.

Yeah, I I see that they were making progress.

But I mean it’s again it’s just getting worse and it keeps happening like enough’s enough already.

You know, the constant racial profiling.

I mean, no, it’s just wrong.

Mhm.

And I it’s my hope that understanding some of these racial biases, the more we can become aware of them, the more that we can change them because they are deep rooted within our culture and it’s without awareness.

We can’t change them.

Right?

So I shared with you my hope, what is your hope?

Well, you know, um I would like to see more people speaking about their experiences and not don’t live don’t don’t be silenced.

Don’t let people silence you.

There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to speak on what’s happening.

I mean, I would have loved to follow through with my formal complaint.

But again, that fear who nobody’s going to believe me everything was verbal.

I should not have had to have walked out, walked out.

I shouldn’t have just quit.

I just think that employers should be more supportive and just to listen, listen to what was said and why it hurts and why it’s wrong.

Not only that, it’s illegal.

Well, just to be heard, we want to be heard we’re hurting.

Mhm.

Now, you know, this was like I said, it was a while back.

I am blessed to have that support from my current employer, my previous employer.

I mean, the support they provide is it’s amazing.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is my light at the end of the tunnel where I’m at now.

Mhm And I’m very happy.

I know I’d never have to worry about anything like that from my current employer.

And what exactly does that support look like that?

You feel so deeply well, for when they would I know my employer has an open door policy, they are very culturally aware, um very supportive in any way possible.

When I asked for permission, I don’t want to say for permission, but when I let my employer know about this this podcast, they were very supportive.

They were like over it.

Please go for it.

We support you.

So that meant a lot to me.

Mhm It really did.

So it sounds like one you have a sense of belonging to the organization you work for.

Finally, I had a hard time finding that just finding the right fit for me or I can actually call home and it sounds like you feel accepted for who you are and all of who you are.

Yeah.

You’re not trying to change me.

Mhm.

You just get to show up fully as Claudia.

Yes.

So as we get ready to close here, what would you like our listeners to know as we close today?

You know, to just hear, listen to us, please.

That’s all.

Listen, we’re hurting.

We are hurting.

We don’t want to hurt anybody.

We don’t want anybody to fill the way we feel to endure the pain that we have felt.

Just please listen to us.

That’s all I just want to be heard.

I just want to be listen, Just listen.

Mm thank you Claudia.

Thank you a true joy and privilege to hear your story.

And um I just really want to thank you for showing up and sharing it with us.

You know, and I just want to thank you for providing me with this opportunity in this safe space to be able to say, But I have to say share my and unfortunate experiences.

It really needs a lot.

Thank you.

It means a lot and it touches my heart to be here with you today.

Um, and I just have this deep hope again that this platform serves as a way for you to be heard and your experiences to be heard and to raise awareness about the impact of racism, especially on health and what you know, all of those worries and fears carry.

Um and there is a toll that it takes throughout the lifespan.

And um I just hope that we can all learn to listen to one another and um hear the pain and the hurt and that we can heal our country needs to heal.

Yeah, I agree.

Well, thank you again.

Thank you.

It was a pleasure.

Thank you for listening to CASAT Conversations.

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We hope you found today’s conversation timely and meaningful.

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If you want to learn more, visit us at our blog at CASATondemand.org.

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This podcast has been brought to you by the CASAT Podcast Network located within the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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This episode features the song “My Tribe” by Ketsa, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for educational purposes only. Any advice offered on the podcast is an educational context and is not intended as direct medical advice, nor as a replacement for it. If you are experiencing a medical or life emergency, please call 911. If you are experiencing a crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273 – 8255.  If you are experiencing stress, and would like professional help please contact your insurance company to identify a therapist in your area or contact the organization you work for and ask about an employee assistance program.

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