Two searingly honest essays from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards: Blunt talk from two juniors at Winchester Thurston: Erika Drain rejects that she's 'not black enough'; and Jesse Lieberfeld is no 'ideal nice Jewish boy' when it comes to Israeli policy.

Everyone desires to stand out. No matter the profession they wish to pursue, the effort they put into their reputation, or the reasons that motivate them to do so, succeeding is always the main goal. When I was young, I loved the idea of being someone unique. A girl who stands out against the crowd, and whose work and ideas can count for something in the future. I studied, I researched, I experienced the world as best as I could, and yet, there was a barrier. I never thought about my race as something that defined me.

Fighting a Forbidden Battle:

How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong

By Jesse Lieberfeld

I once belonged to a wonderful religion. I belonged to a religion that allows those of us who believe in it to feel that we are the greatest people in the world -- and feel sorry for ourselves at the same time. Once, I thought that I truly belonged in this world of security, self-pity, self-proclaimed intelligence and perfect moral aesthetic. I thought myself to be somewhat privileged early on. It was soon revealed to me, however, that my fellow believers and I were not part of anything so flattering.