Hope Houston

The Menorah in the Window

By the time I was eight years old, I had been condemned to Hell twice. The words were spoken matter-of-factly each time, plainly even, in a way you might offer directions to lost travelers. Eternal damnation or salvation, both seemed just an exit ramp away.

The first herald of my end times was Megan on Gateway Road. There was something about the openness of my parents’ Ohio driveway, the way it spread out hazy in the summer heat to a darkened audience of asphalt, that made neighborhood children jones for a baptism. Megan was perky and blonde, the cherry on top of the nuclear family her parents strove to be. They lived across from our duplex in a single-family home, where Megan and her brother, Patrick, had their own rooms. My sister, Lexi, and I, meanwhile, bunked beds with each other and our Beanie Babies.

Megan liked me instantly that first time she wandered across the street, even though she was an esteemed first grader and I was a lowly kindergartener. In minutes, we grew close over a joint desire to own and play with every teeny tiny Polly Pocket set manufactured, despite being fashioned entirely of choking hazards. But one thing especially puzzled dear Megan, as she stood on that drive in the long, summer sun. And it sprang from what I would learn to be the most inevitable question of a Midwestern rearing. 

“Where do you go to church?” Megan’s silhouette bobbed against the concrete in her matching set of purple shirt and shorts, coupled with frilly, neon socks. 

“Nowhere,” I said. “We don’t go.”

“But where do you go to church?” She pressed again. 

“We don’t,” I repeated, plopping beside my beached bike. It was purple with no training wheels. I’d won it in a raffle at the city’s annual Easter egg hunt, despite being a non-believer.

“Well, aren’t you Christian? Catholic?” Megan pushed out a hip in defiance. Her shadow stretched down the concrete, dipping into the street.

“Erm, not really, I guess.”

“Well, if you’re not Christian, then you’re going to Hell.” There it was, the matter-of-fact plainness that veers one down a rock ‘n’ roll highway to eternal hellfire.

“But my Mom says—”

“You have to take Jesus as your savior.” Megan would hear nothing else. “It says so in the Bible. Or else you’ll burn in Hell. Forever.” Then, she shrugged. Eternal damnation, meh. Soon enough, Megan wandered back across the street.

Megan and her family attended the Christian Life Center, an evangelical church just off of I-70 before the I-75 interchange, the same interchange that would lead you across widening potholes to Solid Rock Church, where a yellowed, seventy-foot Jesus arose from the not-so-hallowed ground with palms pointed to the heavens, praising. It developed the affectionate name Big Butter Jesus on news and radio. We passed her church and many others (sometimes even Big Butter) most weekends on our trips out to dinner or to the local bulk store. As I rode about town, tucked in the back of my parents’ Nissan, I sometimes felt like I could count more steeples than I could trees. 

My first horseman long gone, I pushed my bike into the garage and wondered what Megan might think if she knew my parents let me watch Spice World or Jurassic Park. None of my father’s family appreciated those things, either—just Veggie Tales and vacation bible school. In fact, as Southern Baptists, most subscribed to a notion of non-believers burning in hellfire quite literally. I could often see their discontentment in the hard-pressed lines of their mouths whenever my mother—a seemingly secular daughter of two Jews—didn’t force invitations to church on me. The lines pressed harder whenever she opened our home, some winters, to both a Christmas tree and a JC Penny clearanced, electric menorah. One aunt in particular, Aunt Jo, accused Mom of confusing us children to the point of existential crisis, and because we lived amongst a forest of steeples, our religion of choice might as well be theirs. Across grapevines, we’d hear whispers that my father’s estranged mother—a dire alcoholic and intermittent substance abuser—accused my mother of even brainwashing the two of us.

Bike tucked away, I wandered inside the right-hand door of the duplex, letting the screen door snap shut behind me.

“Am I going to Hell?” I asked my mother from the kitchen archway, low and little. She was fixing sandwiches on white bread. I sunk back behind the wall, felt its coolness under my palms as I pressed against it. 

“No! Are you kidding? What are you talking about?” My mother put down the butter knife she was using to spread mayo across the slices.

“Well, Megan says that if you don’t go to church or Jesus, you’re going to Hell.”

“Megan? From across the street?” 

I nodded. My mother rolled her eyes.

“Listen.” She came over to me, put out her hands, and pulled me gently from around the wall. “Some people believe in God. Some people go to church, like Megan or Aunt Jo. Some people go to temple, like Grandma and Grandpa. But all that really matters in life is being a good person.” She stopped and smoothed my bangs across my brows. “You don’t have to go anywhere to do that, Hope. Being kind. Helping others. What’s in your heart. I think that’s all God cares about. So, that’s all you need to worry about, too.” 

I smiled at her, past her big, red, silly, Sally Jesse Raphael glasses. 

But stampedes can’t—won’t—stop.

* * *

Two years later, Allison of Number 864 rode in around the bend of Sunset Court. My family had moved into our very own house, just five minutes from the duplex, down the town’s main drag. Third grade was rolling in, just a couple months away, and Y2K would soon follow. Lexi and I were just geeked to depart the bunk and settle into our own rooms; similarly, my parents rejoiced in the then-novel chores of home ownership, particularly the maintenance of a full-sized yard. Most weekends in the summer, my mother religiously weeded and watered while my father mowed meticulous grass rows. She’d ditched her Sally Jesse glasses for sleeker frames and could now be found shuffling around the front beds with her gardening board and gloves. Across the yard, my father would transfigure into a lawn sprinkler, streaming sweat from every pore, as he pushed the lawnmower in his swim trunks. Clematis, Mexican sunflowers, black-eyed Susans. Together, they made things grow.

But Allison only took notice of my father, the anointed, when she wandered down the block one Saturday and introduced herself over a game of H.O.R.S.E. in my parents’ drive. She was less spritely than Megan and considered her judgment over crossed arms. I dribbled the ball. First sheepishly and a little slow, but then quickened my pace, as I zeroed in on the cemented hoop to avoid her stare. 

“Your dad is practically naked,” she said, nose scrunched and pushed upward, a spitting image of Dana Carvey’s church lady on SNL.

“He’s mowing the lawn. It’s like ninety degrees.” I shot the basket, shrugged. Swing and a miss. Instinctively, I pushed my glasses up my own nose.

“Whatever.” Allison rolled her eyes across the concrete court. “So, where do you go to church?”

“I don’t,” I answered, wondering what the Bible might have to say about déjà vu. I shot another hoop and passed her the ball.

“But tomorrow’s Sunday.” Allison stopped the game.


“So, you’re not Christian then?”

“Not really. If anything, kinda Jewish.” I supposed another label might satisfy the returning query.

“You know that means you’re going to Hell then, don’t you?” she asked. Another on-ramp to the highway. Then the judgment: “Especially your naked Dad.”

I grabbed the ball from Allison and pushed up towards the front door, saying nothing.

“Hey!” Allison shouted.

“I gotta check on my sister,” I huffed. This time, I didn’t tell my mom or spend much time at all worrying how my eternity might turn out. I just headed inside and waited for the crucifixion to clear and for my parents to join me for some basketball (better basketball), once the sun began to set behind our new, red-sided home.

When Allison approached again a few days later, I tried a lesson in forgiveness, after all she was the only girl on the block near my age. I accepted when she invited me for a playdate and some lunch, hoping she might lighten the air with Furbies or Tamagotchis, like Megan did with Pollys, but as soon as my toes touched the threshold, I sensed I was in for an intervention, a talking-to akin to a lecture from the principal. Bibles and bible study books stacked the coffee table in the living room, little towers of Babel, where her mother smiled at me for a few seconds too long. She ushered us into the kitchen and begged us to sit. At the breakfast nook table, an oaken Jesus peeped down at me from his cross as Allison’s mother snatched up my hands, just missing bowls of Chef Boyardee. 

“Won’t you pray with us, Hope?” Allison’s mother asked. Her voice lifted like a hymn, a tad sharp. Allison, meanwhile, smiled at me sideways and smugly, stroking her honey brown hair. I hesitated. My little fingers itching for retreat.

“Don’t your parents say grace?” Allison’s mom pressed, each word a hoof into dirt. Her hands tightened around mine when I whispered no. 

Before lunch was done, I was invited to church not once, not twice, but three times.

* * *

It takes a toll being branded a heathen. Allison must have spread the gospel about my semi-naked, super sweaty dad and my “if anything, kinda Jewish” ways because it seemed like everyone knew at Clayton Hills Elementary that first week of third grade. The truth was that I wasn’t much of anything at eight years old, but suddenly this difference between me and my Midwestern brethren became a source of distinction, even pride. I began to wear my sorta-kinda-maybe Jewishness like a nametag: A “Hello, my name is Hope. Jesus didn’t die for my sins, but I’m still cool,” blue and white sticker, pressed firmly to my chest.

But here was the truth: The extent of my Jewishness was stray celebrations of Passover via American Greetings cards to my grandparents in South Florida. When they’d visit, my grandmother would sprinkle Yiddish around our house. Oy, my little fresser. Grandpa Bennett, lezzum gemacht! Some holiday seasons, we’d have eight days of my parents shouting, “Go away, old man!” in our kitchen to a make-believe Jewish Santa Claus, called Hanukkah Harry. We’d race down every night in slippered feet, begging, “But who is he, Mom? Come on, Dad?” Yet, all questions were assuaged with a sneakily delivered, unquestionably cool gift. Most Hanukkahs, my mother might get a hankering for matzo balls and latkes with applesauce, but usually, we’d just spread margarine on store-bought Manischewitz matzo sheets and watch daytime court tv. 

But when my grandmother died during my fourth-grade year, my Jewishness transmuted into something more concrete. My grandfather embraced his synagogue like never before, registering my grandmother’s yahrzeit for yearly memorial services and inviting us to service during each of our increasingly frequent trips south. I began to learn Hebrew little by little, something all my maternal cousins had already done through formal bar and bat mitzvahs. On our infrequent visits north to my mother’s brothers in Buffalo, we visited their synagogue too, where my grandfather had dedicated a brass plaque in my grandmother’s memory, near an adjacent, darkened hall of glass cases where relics and history resided, and where I understood I didn’t belong either.

My more secular upbringing meant I couldn’t talk Torah. I didn’t know, by heart, the prayers. I only remembered the mourner’s kaddish from my grandmother’s funeral, and even that was more gists and feelings, not words or memory. The only words I knew were ones I read over and over and over in a pocket Hebrew dictionary I asked my grandfather for, the year after my grandmother passed, from his local Judaica shop. Shalom. Toda. Toda raba. 

In Florida, though, it was mashugana like me. My grandfather’s rabbi was an Irish man. An Irish man who wore two different colored shoes and smelled faintly of Schnapps at every service. He told awful jokes. His favorite was about Lexi’s full name: Alexis. He said he’d never forget because it was just like the car. “Ah, now that’s a Lexus,” he’d croon across the hall, face reddened and smile crooked. He’d ask me every visit about my studies and about my Hebrew, which was obviously hardly progressing, but still he’d invite me to the temple’s dais and have me read out a few lines. He and the congregation would clap and smile like I’d done well, even though I knew I had butchered it. But somehow, he told me implicitly, despite my sorta-kinda beginnings, I was Jewish in my own way. Just like him. Just like every member of his congregation.

By fifth grade, I stopped accepting invitations to church service and vacation bible school altogether, feeling something more kindred to the Torah, and the accusations of existential confusion only grew. Still, I begged my grandfather to help me go to summer day camp at a local Jewish Community Center (JCC), one of the only of its kind in our corner of the Midwest. He cut the check, and that summer before sixth grade, I learned to swim in an Olympic-sized pool; I saw that Hebrew is read right-to-left; and I listened over and over to a woman from Israel read The Giving Tree, nestled atop crabgrass under an encouraging sun, in her native tongue. I learned, little by little, of the kind of person I hoped to be.

Yet that third horse rode in by sunset, randomly on a post-camp evening that peeled above me into strips of bubblegum, the kind encased like scrolls. The door to the backyard from the kitchen was open, and through it, the phone rang. My father, tongs in hand, returned inside. The house smelled like the beginnings of a good grill, and my mom had just set the outdoor table. Napkins, salads, forks, plates. In the kitchen, I was tasked to gather our drinks, while Lexi bounced on bare feet beyond the window screens, fireflies caught mid-flight perching on her fingertips.

“Hello?” my father asked. Soon enough, his mother’s voice ricocheted outward from the corded phone that hung beside the fridge. Every slur, every syllable slicked by Bud Light. Her usual guerrilla warfare: innocuous supper time calls turned poison darts. 

“That fucking Jewish bitch!” Jan cut in and then out. My father shooed me away, said something sternly into the receiver. I slunk to the screen door, balancing cups in my arms like doll babies.

“That kike whore. She tells those kids not to like me.” I sunk—each vowel buoying around me like deep sea mines—until I resolved, watching my mother hold back tears under the candy sky, that I would be a Jewish bitch, too. 

From that day forward, JCC day camp became rabbinical study. Over turkey wraps in the cafeteria, I listened closely, stopping only to shush my table mates, when our director explained, on a Friday, the reason for the Sabbath, and then on a Monday, the belief in tikkun olam, healing the world through mitzvot. Then I understood the Shabbos candles. I could now cover my eyes and recite, “Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam…” As we gathered near the flagpole each afternoon to lower the camp’s American flag, we’d bridge occasionally from “This Land is Your Land” into a Hebrew “Happy Birthday,” and I’d mutter it under my breath the whole ride home. But the leaves soon seeped amber in the rushing August air. Camp ended, and I returned to being the keeper of my own Torah. 

* * *

Sixth grade fell upon me like an avalanche, and soon, too, winter. The sleeting cold was markedly absent of latkes, matzo balls, and mischievous gift-givers. My mother was late on her usual decorating, and my father was also absent, working longer and longer hours before the winter plant shutdown. My mother frowned at even the mention of a tree. In some ways, it was just one of those years. But I begged and begged, the unrelenting child I was.

One weekend, my father found time to pull down our boxes of holiday clutter, and my mother stood at the dining table, pulling out Father Claus knick-knacks and yesteryear’s paint-and-bake ornaments. Then, she unboxed our electric menorah, its white frame yellowing more every year in service. From a distance, it stood confidently, transparently like glass. It reflected its light and anyone who looked back. 

“Can we put it in the window this year, Mommy? At camp, I learned it’s supposed to go in the window.”

My mother pressed newspaper down into the box. She set the menorah to the side, making room for other holiday trinkets on the dining table. She averted my wide-eyed blinks.

“Mom, can I please put it in the window? That’s how we’re supposed to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah—the reason for our season! The oil for the lights!” 

“No, Hope. It can be on the table near the door.” She removed a pair of Santa mugs from the box.

“But Mom, no one can see it from there. It’s behind the wall! We need to put it in the win—” I picked up the contraption by the base, thumbing the dial that changes the number of lit nights.

“Hope! I said no.” She pushed the menorah back to the table. 

“Why? Why are you being so weird? I want everyone to see it in the window.”

“Well, I don’t, Hope,” she said.

“But you always tell me to be what I want and to be proud? I want to be proud!”

“Not everyone thinks like I do,” her voice lowered. “Listen, there are people in the world who wouldn’t like that we aren’t Christian. There are people who hate Jews just for being Jews. It’s okay to be whatever you want to be. But sometimes, I think it is better that not everyone knows.”

“I don’t think we should give into those people then!”

“Maybe you’re right, but people have said some nasty things to me, and I don’t want that for you, for Lexi. People you know, Hope. Like, Mick across the street.” She took a breath. “I never told you this, but he got mad when I asked him for his share of the mulch we split a while back, and you know what he said to me?”

I shook my head.

“He said, ‘How do you get a Jew to shut the hell up? Give them their money.’ Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

I thought of Jan. Megan, Allison, every step in this life of wandering.

“Okay.” I put the menorah on the table beside the door, shuttered and out of view. I ducked under the glass tabletop and carefully plugged it in. When I stood, I looked into its mirrored glass, and it shone only to me. In its reflection, I saw only myself. 

* * *

Mothers are seldom wrong. Ears to earth are not necessary to know that one personal apocalypse has not four horsemen, but a count that cannot rely on your fingers, your toes, or even your eyes. People you know, Hope, and people you love. The older you get, the more they crop up. And, as I entered middle school, the dust cloud came running, and that tag of pride I’d once worn began to dull and fray into a much more sinister badge. 

“You do know that a Jew invented the gas chamber, right?” said Billy Taylor, the pee-wee football extraordinaire that sat in the back corner of my seventh-grade language arts class. He was never the class’s clown, more known for the occasional one-liner, spoken from a sure mouth balanced atop a quarterback’s pointed shoulders. Now, which horseman was Billy? 

“Doesn’t that mean they might as well have deserved it?” A chorus of boys joined in a chortle. Our elderly teacher’s back turned to the hoard and altogether none-the-wiser.

We’d just finished reading excerpts from both Elie Wiesel’s Night and Anne Frank’s diary. I’d raised my hand just halfway when the teacher asked what questions the readings brought forth in us. In each line, I fixated on who in my family tree had been lost to the night. My grandparents were first generation American children of European, Ashkenazi Jews. My grandfather had served in World War II but never spoke of his tenure or of much of the past at all before meeting my grandmother. But I guess to Billy, my tree deserved the broken branches and the secrets that I feared would always remain buried and unknowable, trampled by every passing day like deep roots.

Billy’s eyes widened with excitement when he saw me, flushing red and pushing back tears. I raised my textbook around me, erected it like a wall. He looked at me over the spine the way cartoon cats lick chomps before prey. 

“Yeah, Jew, you all deserved it,” another offered in a low snicker.

”Yeah, Jew!”

“Yeah, Jew.

I’d learned to drive and taken the sophomore state examinations by the time boys in my grade stopped throwing pennies on the ground, each copper coin clinking against the lunch room tile like a shotgun shell in a firing line. Aren’t ya gonna pick it up, Jew? I’d like to say I always slung it back, offered a stronger zinger, aimed straight for the back of their throats and watched them choke, but I’d just scoot past and grow as tired as the schtick.

I’d also like to say that someone else fought back for me, and then picked me up instead of the penny, but even my own friends grew on the gag. What’s up, my Jew? And which number are you? Oh, come on, Jew! Have you pulled a number? Which horseman are you? And you? And you?

I wish I could say I didn’t learn to laugh. Softly and submissively. Even as I grew into an adult.

* * *

When I’d finally come face-to-face with the harbinger to end all horsemen, it was 2017, and I was more of a twenty-something paper-pusher than a teenage, would-be Torah scholar. The previous year, I had relocated for my husband’s job to Alexandria, Virginia along the southern skirts of the Capital Beltway, west of the Potomac River. The Lincoln Memorial was just a twelve-minute drive (at night and in no traffic) up the parkway and across the foggy bottom of the river. Some weekends, I’d visit the National Mall in the milky dark and lay back on my palms under stars and standing flags, feeling like I was in the middle of it all: history, government, action. I was in the proverbial room where it happens. 

But what was happening was the final descent. The last rush of stampede that little, sorta-kinda-Jewish me would never have thought possible, less probable. First, the death of my mother. Then, Pulse. The election. Russia. The Women’s March. And then, Charlottesville, where droves of far-right, white men with tiki torches descended upon Market Street Park, nestled deep in the blue Virginian hills, for the Unite the Right rally. Orchestrated by rising white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, the demonstration protested confederate war statue removals amidst a pitchfork chant, crying, “Jews will not replace us. You will not replace us”—the same protest where a Dodge Charger would later drive into a crowd of peaceably assembled counter-protesters, fatally striking social justice activist Heather Heyer. Her murderer was a man raised in a patch of the Midwest similar to mine—Florence, Kentucky—and who later relocated to northwest Ohio. By 2017’s end, the FBI reported a seventeen percent increase in hate crimes across the United States from 2016 alone.

And then, Richard Spencer pushed further north and moved into a neighborhood too close for my comfort. The neo-Nazi darling took up shop above a chocolatier on King Street in Old Town, Alexandria’s iconic historic and hipster district. Spencer moved a hop and a skip away from the tavern where Thomas Jefferson held his inaugural ball. He, too, wanted to be in the room where it happens. 

And what Spencer made happen was doxxings, most prominently a Georgetown professor who had the courage to confront him at her local gym, resulting in the termination of Spencer’s membership. Soon after, we popped into the dog-haven neighborhood of Del Rey, its buildings painted purple and turquoise, for the best burgers in town, only to find posters of her face, her information, her name tucked under windshield wipers and posted to light poles. Some sketched anti-Semitic stereotypes; others implored readers to be proud to be white. Later, cars would be found around town engraved with swastikas, and a local synagogue would be similarly defaced. I’d spent many years uncomfortable in my existence, but for the first time in my life, I felt unsafe. 

Days later, I sat, nose buried in phone, beside my husband, breathing in spring air and video game warfare. I remembered the menorah in the window. I remembered its yellowing frame, my mother’s firm press of it back onto the table. I remembered my initial resolve, twinges of envy rising for my younger self. I kept scrolling. I knew someone had to have Spencer’s new address. I was right. 

I snapped my head towards my husband. His eyebrows raised.

“Want to go visit dear ol’ Richard Spencer?”

“You have his address? Now?” 

I nodded.

“Fuck yeah, let’s go.”

When we arrived outside his Old Town home, an eclectic group of protesters was already gathered, sporting rainbow flags, “Love Not Hate” signs, and above all, a marked sense of chutzpah in calling to task the neo-nazi creep. 

“Oh, Richaaaaaard!” one man lilted in a tenor tone, fellow demonstrators mocking in unison. We clapped. We stomped. We yelled. I made noise.

Somehow, I still wondered how this could happen here, how such vitriolic hate could seed in my own backyard, but looking to the cobbled street before me, lined with colonialist row homes, a place that the slave trade once called home, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise. This street today was no different than my former baptismal drives. This reckoning had always been sprouting shortly, buried in the soil of my Ohioan roots under fraying husks of maize. Each horse, however innocent, plowed the field, made possible the eventual questioning of my existence. Made possible the call to put us in our place.

A few months before, I’d stood in a reconstructed railcar on remnant tracks that once led to Treblinka, where nearly 900,000 Jews would come to their death. I stood for what felt like hours in its blanket of sifted gray light. It was the first time I’d visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The railcar held me, open and empty, and I traced its windows over and over, its small slit eyes. I felt my history and my family. I felt whatever it meant to be me—this quasi-Jewish woman, wandering her own wasteland, untethered to anything tangible: no mother around any longer to smooth bangs to brows, no grandfather to question Torah, no grandmother to sprinkle Yiddish. I felt them slip like dust down into the floorboards below. I wrung out my heart when I stumbled to the bench on the platform below. 

This was me. Jewish and yet not. Gentile and, yes, lost. Secular, defiant, scared, ashamed wrangler of horsemen. Overseer of my own upending and my own salvation. Sorta-kinda-maybe Jew. Completely-definitely-incredibly proud.

This is me. I watch Yentl. I eat bacon. I kiss my mezuzah in the air and on the lips. I decorate a tree, a wreath, a life. And I spit on Richard Spencer’s front step. I yell to his parted windows under that still encouraging sun, “Oh, Richard! Come out, come out wherever you are.” 

Works Consulted

Beaujon, Andrew, and Kim Olsen. “Richard Spencer Has Left Old Town Alexandria.” Washingtonian, 11 Aug. 2018, www.washingtonian.com/2018/08/10/report-richard-spencer-has-left-old-town-alexandria/.

Buchmann, Arielle. “Jewish Community Center in Virginia Vandalized with Anti-Semitic Graffiti Twice in 18 Months.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 7 Oct. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/10/07/swastikas-spray-painted-jewish-community-center-virginia/1558366002/.

Duggan, Paul, and Justin Jouvenal. “Neo-Nazi Sympathizer Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crimes for Plowing Car into Protesters at Charlottesville Rally.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 Mar. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/neo-nazi-sympathizer-pleads-guilty-to-federal-hate-crimes-for-plowing-car-into-crowd-of-protesters-at-unite-the-right-rally-in-charlottesville/2019/03/27/2b947c32-50ab-11e9-8d28-f5149e5a2fda_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1bc0b0113540.

Eligon, John. “Hate Crimes Increase for the Third Consecutive Year, F.B.I. Reports.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Nov. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/11/13/us/hate-crimes-fbi-2017.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share.

Smidt, Remy. “A Bunch Of Racist Posters Were Plastered Around This Neighborhood And Now Police Are Investigating.” BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed News, 27 May 2017, www.buzzfeednews.com/article/remysmidt/police-investigate-racist-posters.

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Hope Houston (she/they) is a fat, disabled Jewish writer from Cleveland, Ohio. Hope received her MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, where she worked as co-editor of the River Volta Review of Books. In February 2023, her poem, “Expecting,” placed second in the Lorain Public Library System’s Toni Morrison Poetry Contest—Morrison’s hometown and former employer. Her work’s recently appeared in Washington Square Review, Passengers Journal, and The Fieldstone Review. She has work forthcoming in Ad Hoc Fiction’s Flare anthology on chronic illness. Find her at www.hopehoustonauthor.com.