Karen González

Karen González is a speaker, writer, and immigrant advocate who lives in Baltimore. Her new book is The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. 

Posts By This Author

Latina Identity and the Bible

by Karen González 01-24-2019
A review of ‘Hermanas: Deepening Our Identity and Growing Our Influence,’ by Natalia Kohn, Noemi Vega Quiñones, and Kristy Garza Robinson.

IN ITS THIRD chapter, Hermanas asks: “What is your beautifully empowering narrative that may influence your hermanas [sisters] around you and those that are to come after you?” In the most wonderful way, the book’s three authors—Natalia Kohn, Noemi Vega Quiñones, and Kristy Garza Robinson—share their own stories to answer this essential question. Through the writing, they become the Latina mentors and role models many Latinas want and need, as many of us have no such examples in our communities.

What comes through these pages is how much these writers embrace their identities as Latinas, how much they love their communities, and how deeply they’ve experienced God through their identities.

They rightfully make no apology for writing this book for the many Latinas that may have had similar experiences with dominant white Christian culture. They read, interpret, and apply the Bible from the perspective of not just Latinx culture, but the specific experiences of Latinas who often find themselves doubly marginalized by racism and sexism and, thus, unheard. The authors provide examples of biblical women such as Esther, Deborah, and Hannah who embrace their ethnicity and challenges to become leaders and teachers in their spheres of influence, whether directly or indirectly.

'La Posada Sin Fronteras' Imagines Mary and Joseph at the Border

by Karen González 12-06-2018

Fuerbach / Shutterstock

Every year from Dec. 16 to 24, Las Posadas begin in many Latin American countries and immigrant communities in the U.S. Roughly translated, posadas means “inn” or “shelter.” Las Posadas recalls the events in Luke’s Gospel leading up to Jesus’ birth. It’s a Catholic Christian observance with a sung liturgy that’s performed on the streets rather than in church.

A posada begins with a street procession that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter at an inn. Those playing the protagonists of the story, Mary and Joseph, are dressed in costume and carry candles as they follow along a prescribed route, knocking on doors. At each door they ask, through special posada songs, for room at the inn. In rural areas, Mary may even ride on a donkey.

Another Kind of Journey

by Karen González 05-02-2018
Love Undocumented: Risking Trust in a Fearful World, by Sarah Quezada. Herald Press.

ONE OF THE HARDEST things about being an immigrant and advocate for immigrants is an unspoken assumption that immigrating for strictly economic reasons is not as worthy of admission (and compassion) as doing so to flee war or persecution. Historically, this made refugees the “good immigrants,” until the current administration began to stoke fear against them. I love that Sarah Quezada turns that idea on its head by sharing the story of her relationship and marriage to an undocumented immigrant who didn’t leave his country for anything other than more opportunities and, to some extent, adventure.

Quezada tells a story that is part memoir, part biblical reflection, and part policy and data. She relates how she fell in love with and married an undocumented immigrant, Billy. As they make their way through the maze of the U.S. immigration system, she learns what immigrants know through experience: Gaining legal status is a complex, expensive, and lengthy process. She also reminds readers that many immigrants don’t have options to gain legal status, which might shock those who instruct immigrants just to “get in line and wait.”

What makes the story compelling is Quezada’s own hospitable rhetoric; it is easy to identify with her as she acknowledges knowing next to nothing about immigration before she began dating Billy. In fact, she barely knew people different from herself prior to a move to an urban Los Angeles neighborhood. The gentle humility of her storytelling makes this a book you can recommend to Christians new to the immigration debate. They will learn and come to greater awareness, as Quezada herself does through her journey.

Beyond the Triumphant Immigrant Experience

by Karen González 09-18-2017
The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, by Lauren Markham. Crown.

WITHIN THE FIRST pages of The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life , it becomes clear that Lauren Markham understands the complexities of immigration to the United States and has personally worked with immigrants stuck in its tangled web. In a journalistic style, she reports the story of teenage twin brothers Raúl and Ernesto, fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, hoping to find safety and new opportunities in El Norte.

Markham has worked in refugee resettlement and immigrant education for the past decade. In this book she covers all aspects of immigration in well-researched detail. But she also seems to understand that while any reader could argue immigration policy, no one can argue with the Flores brothers’ story, from the crippling poverty in rural El Salvador, where life is cheap and disposable, to the stark loneliness of their lives in the U.S., far from the comforts of family and home.

What My Abuelita Taught Me About the Dignity of Work

by Karen González 10-07-2016

Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Image via /Shutterstock.com

I don’t mind being associated with the meaningful work that people like my abuelita do every day, whether it be housekeeping, landscaping, or childcare. What I do mind is being dehumanized by a racist, stereotypical assumption that robs me and other Latinxs of our dignity as image bearers of God.

This National Hispanic Heritage Month, Let's Celebrate the Story of Ruth

by Karen González 09-22-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

As an immigrant woman and a Christian, I’ve loved the book of Ruth ever since I realized Ruth was an immigrant, welcomed into the family of God. And I’ve often been surprised by the interpretations of the Biblical story, in which Boaz is the hero and no one else has any agency. I find this odd because, as I read Ruth, what I see is that Boaz did nothing more heroic than exactly what was required by God’s law: He welcomed an immigrant from a neighboring community.

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