Hope. The feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Sometimes we say we hope and pray for something, when we put that desire out in to the universe, asking God or whoever we pray to, to help us receive what we desire. I hope and pray for things, sometimes they do occur, often not in the timing I was expecting, the universe is definitely on its own timeline.

These days, in the political and social environment, I hope and pray often for different circumstances, for changes in policy, and actions of our politicians and administration. I am anxious about the state of race relations, sexism, and gun control in our country. These are my opinions, and I am not trying to start a debate or tell someone their opinion is wrong, If I were to do that I would be violating one of my own basic rights, which is that we all are entitled to our opinions. They cannot be wrong per se, however they can be based on lies, false narratives and bias’ which I don’t have a lot of tolerance.  I am worried about the future of our democracy, not about which party is in charge, I think they both stink. I am concerned  that with greed taking over the system, the rights as individuals are at risk.

As a woman, I am diverse from the norm of this country and have suffered at times from being treated as a second class citizen, not equal to the man. Being a single woman, that comes through loud and clear when I want to make a major purchase. Buying a car, for example, has been, at times, a terrible experience. I have been talked down to, asked if I am sure I can afford this car, and asked multiple times if my husband will be coming with me the next time I come to test drive. I have a friend who is an asian woman, she was completely ignored at a car dealership after I sent her there for her new car. She walked out. She would have paid cash for her car, but that dealership lost her business and many others due to how she was treated.

As a Jew, I have been mocked, told I don’t “lookJewish,” and told that I should say Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays. I have had to take days off from work to attend holy services, and have had to listen to people who are my friends use the term “jew down” when talking about negotiating prices. I get that I celebrate Christmas with my family as much of my immediate family follows the Catholic religion, however I identify much more strongly with my Jewish roots and feel passionate about the separation of Church and State. The fact that it is now common for the Christian religion to be used as cloak to reduce people’s rights is not only wrong to me, but counter to religious freedom. But again, I am not someone who sits in a synagogue or has a name that people identify as “Jewish” so I am not always persecuted the way others who are more religious may be.

These are my differences, and yet they are not the same as what those who are of color or more religious than me. In fact, for me to say that I am treated differently can be seen as a stretch when compared to the way some others are treated. I have a friend, a woman of color, who is successful and earned the right to a $70,000 car. However, the police didn’t think so and when they saw her driving it with her workout clothes on and a baseball cap, stopped her to make sure it was her car. This was only last year, not 40 years ago.

This past week I was fortunate to listen to a group of students from Seton Hall University speak about racism and homophobia on campus. I say fortunate as they gave me hope. I was appalled at what I was hearing about this great university in New Jersey. I had no idea as a white woman how prevalent racism was on campus. These students talked about the school continually trying to reduce Africano studies, make it less relevant on campus. These students talked about being mocked, singled out by white students and professors. These students talked about the feeling of being invisible at times on campus. One young lady spoke about why she chose Seton Hall that went beyond her scholarship. They boasted a 40% diversity rate. She later found out that they included anyone who wasn’t Catholic as diverse. So a white protestant student was considered diverse. There were very few people of color on campus and she realized quickly people were waiting to see her fail. For that reason, this group of students formed an activist group and staged a sit-in for demands of equality on campus. They all had high GPAs so that they would not be seen as the stereotype and in one case accelerated to graduate in 3 years. They all had great hopes and dreams as well.

Each student I listened to wants to change the world, whether that be through education and becoming a teacher to liberate black and brown youth, or becoming a civil rights attorney or work to change immigration laws. They were not students who will sit through college and just focus on how do I make money, how do I live a certain lifestyle. They are focused on bigger issues, societal issues that are relevant today.

This gave me hope for the future of our society. This gave me hope that what we have screwed up as a nation and a world, may get fixed by this generation coming up now. This was the hope that has been missing for me as I listen to people justify the current administration’s policies, practices and lies.

This is our future. Bright and focused youth who have been persecuted and know that they don’t want others persecuted. This was my hope this week. I will never watch a Seton Hall game again, I will never root for this school again after learning about the practices of their administration along with the student body, but I do thank the school for bringing these students into my life.

I learned from them this week. They gave me energy and they gave me hope.

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