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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sellout (05/26/11)

TITLE: Will the Real Karen Please Stand Up?


She was the quintessential ‘girl next door’, or so she thought. Karen didn’t realize until her teens that in 1950’s and 1960’s America that meant light brown or blond hair and light-colored eyes. She had all of the other qualifications…parents who grew up in the U.S., a WWII veteran dad, a home in the suburbs, Girl Scouts, a hula hoop, and every other cliché of the times. It wasn’t until her Eighth Grade camping trip, when she was paired with another girl from class, that the truth became apparent.

“I don’t want my daughter bunking with a Mexican!”

Karen cried for days. “I’m just like her,” she lamented to her mother. “I’m just a little darker. What’s wrong with that? Everyone in class likes my tan.” Only it wasn’t a tan.

Karen’s looks betrayed her. Her parents were born and reared in America, so they spoke only English at home. Ironically, they never wanted Karen to be confused about who she was, so in their ignorance, they scarcely mentioned heredity. Maybe they were victims of prejudice, or maybe they just wanted to blend in too. They never said, but it was an injustice that would haunt her. The few Spanish phrases she had learned from the elders were all she had of her heritage. When the old relations died, so did their legacy. Often Spanish speaking natives would stop her in stores to ask for a translation. She’d shrug and politely say, “No hablo Espanol.” This would sometimes bring a scoff and what sounded like a reprimand. Karen felt like a sellout.

If the so-called average American didn’t accept her, who was Karen? She tried hard to be part of the inner circle during high school; so focused on proving to everyone that she was just like them that she sold herself out. Now she was nothing. The ‘in crowd’ had not let her in, and no other crowd wanted her. Maybe she would embrace her roots and become much more ethnic. She was proud to be of Mexican descent, but that didn’t help her much. She studied Spanish, but Hispanics still resented her because she didn’t act Mexican enough. They said she was trying to be too ‘white’. Wait! Hadn’t she had just learned in her social studies class that Mexicans were Caucasians too? Yet these were the times of protest, of sayings like, ‘Viva la raza’ and ‘Brown power’! She was confused. The customs of her lineage were so watered down that in her home Mexican holidays were never celebrated and Mexican dishes were the exception, not the norm. Karen never had a Quincenera when she turned 15. But did that make her less of a Mexican?

Karen resented having two choose between two cultures. Her descendants had been in America for over 80 years! She wondered how long the assimilation process took before being seen as a ‘real American’. Did German Americans feel pressured by their kind to act more ‘German’? Did Irish Americans get scolded for not understanding Gaelic? When Karen went shopping she was often ignored by sales people. She surmised that they either judged her to be non English speaking, or worse, were just plain prejudice. The chip on her shoulder grew. All Karen wanted was to be accepted for who she was, a run-of-the-mill American girl who just happened to be of Mexican descent. If she understood Spanish –great! If not, who cares?

It all came to a head one summer night as Karen talked for hours to her Mexican-American friend. She too had suffered this dilemma of duality and had made her peace with it. She told Karen that God loved her; He created her to be just the way she was. Karen discovered that to reject herself was to reject the God who made her. She learned that He ultimately forgave the people who had spurned Him, and she resolved to do no less. The baggage of self-doubt and anger toward others had grown too heavy to carry, and she longed to completely surrender its weight to Him. She wondered if people would ever change their attitude towards her and concluded that everyone is in process. There would always be unrighteousness. In time, as Karen slowly began to release her control and walk in the freedom of God, there came a deep awareness that it no longer mattered who she was, but ‘whose’ she was.

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This article has been read 467 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bonnie Bowden 06/02/11
It is true that we are only someone through Christ.

I really liked your title. I think it would have been helpful to "show" the reader more often. For example, When Karen walked into Santa Clara High School, the other students turned their heads and looked away. I know it isn't the best example, because I struggle with this aspect of my writing also.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/03/11
This brings up many interesting and important questions. While I'm sure there are many who would vehmentally disagree with me I wish we would stop using politically correct phrases like African-American, Asian- American and Mexican-American. Don't get me wrong I think ot is very important to know and celebrate your heritage and to never forget where your family comes from but if we are ever to stamp out inequality and prejudice we need to come together as one-Americans and children of God. That is what is so awesome about this country the Great Melting Pot. Remember and be proud of your heritage but together we melt into just one American. Your story will be one that pulls put many different opinions and make people stop and think. Well done and well written on a difficult topic!
Verna Mull 06/03/11
Oh, how wonderful it would be to just be One in Christ, and leave the rest there. You are a victim of things that others have done (illegal residents) that has seemed to build a big wall against some of the nicest people on earth. Praise the Lord, in Christ there are no barriers. Great job of expressing what I am sure many suffer with every day.Great job of writing this
diana kay06/03/11
a very interesting and heartfelt story full of different emotions. this was so well written and such an important and original way of taking the theme. i hope you are a winner with this but it is one of my favorites anyay.
Linda Goergen06/04/11
Oh, I really enjoyed this powerful story and its message!

We all want to just be accepted and loved for who we are. Isn't it a shame how prejudice just seems to exist everywhere but God truly is the great equalizer, who created all, and in His eyes there are only two kinds of people on earth where it will matter...the saved and the unsaved!!

Great job on this!!!!

Note, there is one typo in your use of “two” you may want to correct on your original in this lin: “Karen resented having two choose between two cultures”
Leola Ogle 06/04/11
Very well written story using this week's topic, plus thought provoking about issues many face today. Good job! God bless!
diana kay06/09/11
yes a winner :-) now you are moving on up into the intermediates.. we are a small group there come and enjoy
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
Congratulations on a well-deserved ribbon. I'm so glad this piece did well. You had a lot of good competition this week which shows how good your piece is! Can't wait to read your level 2 checkout story!
Bonnie Bowden 06/09/11
I am so glad your story won! It really was up at the top of my list for the Beginner category.