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Lunch This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Oklahoma City, OK
Twelve. That is the number of people who can fit at a lunch table in my school cafeteria. Twelve. Yet, despite that small number, as I eat my bagel I may be sitting in between the class valedictorian and a kid who is struggling to pass his classes. Or, I could end up next to a black atheist and across from a strong Hispanic Catholic. Like most high schoolers, I eat with the same 12 people every day. Yet my table is far from ordinary.

In both high schools I have attended, students organize themselves in the cafeteria subconsciously by race, class, and GPA with few exceptions. When people see my lunch table, it confuses them. They call it a “hot mess.” It's out of the ordinary; to them it just doesn't make sense.

However, to me it makes more sense than sitting with a bunch of people who are reflections of myself. I have learned more about different cultures in the U.S. from that table than I ever learned in a classroom. I have tasted a true Mexican tamale, learned what it takes to maintain a black girl's hair, and have been taught how to properly pronounce the word “swagger.”

But most touchingly, I have learned the trials that face each culture. I have gotten a taste of the prejudice they still face. I have begun to break down the walls I had subconsciously put up in my mind. All this from a little daily exposure to 11 people.

My lunch table is more than a place to eat. It has taught me a lesson about prejudice and stereotypes, and has opened my mind to a whole world full of people, a lesson I hope to take with me wherever I go.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 8 comments. Post your own!

danman said...
Feb. 11 at 2:31 pm:
This article was a great response to how people of all ethnicities can come together and talk to one another.  My school is somewhat like this but we are more spread out in groups of friends they hang out after school.  I think that is alright and all but it is sometimes boring so I get up sometimes and sit with other tables and socialize with the people at that table.  Being of Hispanic and African culture I love embrassing my race and showing people that not everyone is a stereo... (more »)
 
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ShagunThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm:
okay, let me tell you one thing - this was wonderful. You got the point across in simple words that carry immense meaning and beauy.  Keep Writing !  And feel free to check out some of my work. :)
 
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bookmouseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 22, 2013 at 2:50 pm:
Yay! I'm not the only one! My lunch table was not only divere, but defied stereotypes (Mormon only-child, Jewish football player, Egyptian girl with an affinity for crop-tops to name a few).
 
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MarkJallayuThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm:
Nice article. My school is kinda like this. And I love how you say "my lunch table is more than a place to eat" it truly is more than a place to eat. Those that sit with you, you get to learn about their troubles, hopes, dreams, and everyday life.
 
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ramfthomas4This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm:
yes.  thank you.
 
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PeacemakerzThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm:
Awesome, I wish I sat at that table!
 
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PeacemakerzThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm:
Cool, I wish you wrote your username tho! Maybe I could check out your other works....
 
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jilliannicole said...
Oct. 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm:
I love this!
 
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