A Message from Martha: Why the Election Matters to Us

A Message from Martha: Why the Election Matters to Us - Life Elements

Life Elements

Nov 9, 2020

martha van Hinwegen

It is always an honor to share a little bit about who I am and, at the same time, get to know you in return. I’ve told you all about my heritage as a proud Mexican woman and where my knowledge of earth-derived ingredients stems from. However, as much as I have shared, there’s a great deal you don’t know—and I’d like to disclose additional parts of my story now, in light of the 2020 Presidential election.

I came to the US when I was 6-years-old. Some folks assume I am a naturalized citizen, others think I’m a DACA because of my Mother’s Mexican citizenship*, but I’m neither. Because of my American father, I was granted automatic US citizenship when I was born. Curt and I shared similar backgrounds in our upbringings and values since we were both raised in military families.

My birth father was in the US Marines when I was born, and my Dad, (the man who raised me) was a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy when he retired. Curt’s father was a General in the US Air Force, and we were both brought up to believe in strong character, steadfast morals, and deep respect for others and our nation.

During my career, I worked for a large military contractor, held a Secret Clearance, and met with Generals, Admirals, Commanding Officers, and other top-ranking officials with high-level government clearances inside the Pentagon and at major military bases across the United States. I have been privy to information that protected this country and its citizens, and yet, as a bi-racial Mexican woman, I did not feel protected under the current Administration.

Every time the President spoke about the “illegals,” the “illegitimates,” “rapists,”  and “crooks” coming from Mexico, he might as well have stuck a dagger through my heart. Every time he tried to undercut DACA and the Dreamers, it hurt my soul. “These people” are my people, as much as every American is “my people.”

It was hard enough having the President make me feel like an intruder in my own country, and on top of that, he began attacking my son’s freedom as a gay man.

My son has fought hard for his rights and those in the LGBTQ community. It was terrifying to watch the foundation of everything they fought for shake under the threat of the Administration. 

We are 100% minority woman-owned, and our small but mighty team consists of seven women and two men, including Curt. We also have two daughters, and the lack of gender equality and respect for woman’s rights made us fearful for their futures. 

I have no problem saying that out loud, but as a small business, we have been criticized for our vocalization, and we have lost customers.

In May, we took a stance on Black Lives Matter. We cried for George Floyd and his family. We cried for Breonna Taylor. We committed to fight systemic racism in this country and observe our unconscious biases. 

In September, we mourned the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and this week, we expressed our joy over the election results in the name of unity. It felt right, but the inevitable messages came in through our social channels and emails, as they do every time: "Stay in your lane," "Unfollow," "Goodbye." 

Sometimes we stop and ask ourselves, "Should we keep quiet? Are we out of line?" 

We always come back to the same answer: "No."

Who we are as a business is who we are as human beings, and what would it say about us if we hide our values just to make a sale?

We believe in taking care of one another, open-mindedness, and an abundance of empathy. We are confident the new administration will bring back character, morals, and respect for others and our nation. We also believe in conversation, and if you disagree with us, feel free to engage in a meaningful way—but consider your words when you do so. There are real people behind this screen, and we probably have a lot more in common than you think.

We don’t know how to fix the divide in this country, but we know that we will continue to stand on this tiny platform and use the voice we have. No matter your race, gender, identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, you are loved. We see you. We stand with you. And if you’re still here, thank you for standing with us, too.

*My Mom did get her US citizenship. She called it her proudest day. 

martha's mother and grandmother