People of Sacramento commenting on the news: Christina Martinez

Christina Martinez, early childhood education teacher
Christina Martinez, early childhood education teacher. Photo: Kevin Fiscus.

(This is the fifth installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)

Meet Christina Martinez.

She’s 35, a Sacramento State graduate, a Pocket-Greenhaven resident, cofounder of an advocacy group called #NoTeenShame and an early childhood education teacher.

I started following Christina on Twitter a couple months ago and have enjoyed the way in which she provides a window into her work, her parenting and her passion for social issues. Her tweets are as likely to make you laugh as they are to make you think.

We met in person for the first time in June at Federalist Public House to talk about media consumption, the city of Sacramento and her thoughts on the news.

The mother-of-four was eager to participate, mentioning how she’s noticed how much her habits differ from those of her teens.

Christina has long kept a journal and started Life, Interrupted in 2011 to share her stories as a young parent.

“Writing is not a new thing for me,” she wrote back in 2013. “In high school, I was known to skip class and steal away to a nearby park, where I’d post up against a shade tree and furiously write away in my spiral-bound notebook. The difference between my writing then and now is that now, I share.”

She became pregnant with her first child at the end of her sophomore year at John F. Kennedy High School. The first trimester was difficult. There was dry-heaving, dehydration and a bout of hyperemesis gravidarum that kept her in the hospital for nearly a week. “Imagine morning sickness a thousand times worse,” she writes.

There’s an openness and voice in her writing as she details skipping “the social teen thing,” rebirth and young love in community college and her son’s first day of preschool.

Elijah, now 18, will enroll at UC Santa Cruz in the fall. He wants to practice law.

“It’s a fine line between cautioning people with your story and having pride in your process,” she says.

The blog, with the help of social media, led her to connect with six other young mothers from throughout the country. They founded #NoTeenShame to improve the conversation around young parents in ways that do not stigmatize or shame them. The group was honored with the Spirit of Service award by the Healthy Teen Network last year.

“While we would all like to see a continued reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies, we also need to be cognizant about the fact that many efforts to address these numbers are done so at the expense of young parents and their children,” she writes.

Christina moved from San Diego to Sacramento when she was 4 years old and grew up in the same neighborhood she lives today. She can recall vibrant nights out at the Thursday Night Market on K Street, cruising on Broadway and her excitement when the Second Saturday Art Walk began. She mentions a love of the outdoors (hiking and biking), “the untapped potential” of the riverfront, an interest in consuming local and a newfound appreciation for the city.

“For a long time, I had a love-hate relationship with Sacramento,” Christina says.  “I’ve come full circle in my acceptance.”

She speaks with pride about the year 12 different languages were spoken by her students at John Still Elementary School and she values the diversity and integration for which the city is often praised.

She worries about the area surrounding her school in South Sacramento, with its lack of development, empty car dealerships and foreclosed homes. She’s particularly concerned about food deserts, areas where families can’t walk or take public transportation to a grocery store, and the residents who must depend on gas stations and fast food chains to fill the gap.

“If Sacramento is ever going to be a great city,” she says, “we’re going to have to find ways to accommodate people of all class.”

Christina answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted May 9.

How do you get your news?
I get my news through multiple sources, the majority of it via podcast (Democracy Now! and Capital Public Radio), or radio (NPR). Several years ago, I landed a job at a school that is literally five minutes from my house. It’s wonderful not to have to commute, but honestly, I miss time spent on the freeway listening to an entire NPR report from beginning to end. Now, I just have lots of NPR “driveway” moments.

Most breaking news is brought to my attention through social media, either Twitter or Facebook. I also utilize international and national news apps on my phone such as BBC News and NBC News. On the weekend, I still enjoy reading through the newspaper over coffee. I also like the bi-monthly neighborhood newspaper Pocket News distributed by Valley Community Newspapers.

What’s the first news event you remember?
I think the first major news event that I vividly recall is the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. I was 7 years old and on my way out the door to school. My parents were watching TV in the morning, the coffee was brewing, and my sisters and I had our backpacks on, ready to head out the door. I clearly remember watching the lift-off, then the ominous trail of smoke and my mother’s face as she realized something had gone amiss. As a child, I recall being incredibly saddened at the news that Christa McAuliffe a teacher and astronaut from Concord, New Hampshire, had left behind two young children.


What content do you pay for?
I pay for The Sacramento Bee on the weekends and make regular donations to Capital Public Radio and Democracy Now! since I regularly listen in on their stories.


What’s the last great thing you ate?
Honestly, the last great thing I ate was a torta from the taqueria inside Mi Rancho grocery store on 24th Street and Florin Boulevard. This place is a hidden gem. Their breakfast specials are the best in town if you are craving Mexican food. They have fresh aguas frescas, horchata and pan dulce for desert.


Who’s doing it right in news?
Nerdland. It’s a program hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry, a college professor who uses the show as a platform for political progressivism. It airs on the weekends in the early morning, which works for me, as a mom, because I get to watch uninterrupted while taking place in some awesome Twitter commentary surrounding the show under the hashtag #Nerdland. The show’s panelists are diverse in both ethnicity and viewpoints, and offer refreshing perspectives on current events that you don’t always find in local news broadcasts. I’m a busy working mom, so finding quality news shows that fit in my schedule is important to me. I’m glad to have stumbled across Nerdland during one of my early morning Twitter scrolls.

Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Restoring and maintaining our city services to pre-recession levels. Growing up in Sacramento, I’ve watched the city go through many changes. But the downturn following the market crash of 2008 was a depressing period to witness. Store fronts that my family had patronized for decades suddenly went dark, local libraries cut their hours, and public service employees were laid off at alarming rates.

Our basic quality of life necessities have got to be our first priority. Neighborhood parks went unmowed and unattended. Community centers that once offered a wide array of programs were negatively impacted. I love Sacramento, and I’m invested in seeing it recover and thrive in ways that we never imagined.

(2) Sustainability is also an area that concerns me in terms of Sacramento’s future. We need to invest in green development and growth that encourages small business, and reviving our downtown area. Public transit improvement is crucial, as well as the utilization of our riverfront space that has the potential to become a lucrative addition to the area, especially with the building of the new arena.

(3) Lastly, I think we as a city have a duty to heighten public awareness of the human-trafficking problem facing our area. Because of our proximity to other large western cities and major highways, we are one of the top 5 worst cities in the nation for human trafficking and related crimes. As a community, I think we need to be educated on ways that we can collectively address this problem to make Sacramento a safer city for all who reside here.

What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Sensationalism. I cannot stand it. It clouds the core of the story, and gives the news an air of dramatics that detract from the importance of the issue at hand. It’s what’s turned me off from the majority of local news and many cable networks. I want thoughtful, un-biased reporting that is relevant to my life and that informs me of important world events. I feel like I just can’t get that from nightly local newscasts, which is why I generally look to other alternative sources.

What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
Education. I admit, I’m biased. As a teacher with Sacramento City Unified School District, I’m extremely concerned with the issues facing student and teachers today, as we struggle to adjust to the new Common Core standards, recover from the repercussions of school closures, and strategize ways to support the needs of students and families to provide an optimal learning environment for all children.

If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
Apple Hill. It’s kid-friendly, has a wonderful picnic spots, and a delectable selection of baked goods and other treats. During the peak season, we enjoy live music, craft fairs and a ton of activities for the little ones. It’s home to Jack Russell Farm Brewery, which is open year-round, and boasts an awesome selection of craft brews and local wine. (I recommend the blueberry ale). They also have unique second-hand stores for those who enjoy thrifting. I’ve found It’s a close enough drive that there are literally dozens of times that I’ve packed up sack lunches on a whim, thrown a blanket in the car, and taken the kids on a spur of the moment day trip.


Follow Christina (@christinaixchel) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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