If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
DEAR HARRIETTE: When you first look at me, you probably cannot tell that I am biracial. I am definitely white passing. I have very fair skin and straight hair. I don’t really feel the need to tell new people in my life that I am half-Black unless it comes up naturally in conversation.
The other day I was having a conversation with a new friend, and she made a slightly offensive joke about Black people. I am no longer sure that I want to be her friend after that talk. Maybe if she knew that I am Black, she wouldn’t have felt comfortable making that joke. Should I distance myself from her, or should I try to have a conversation about the racially charged joke that she made? — New Friend
DEAR NEW FRIEND: My uncle was white passing. He told many stories of being in the company of white people who would say disparaging things about Black people. His strategy was to listen, get a sense of their thinking and then challenge them at a moment that could possibly be eye-opening. You will need to decide how you will address racism, especially when it’s in your face because people do not know your identity.
Before ending this friendship, confront your new friend. Let her know that you did not appreciate the joke that she made. Remind her of what she said and ask her why she thought that was a good idea. Push her to share her thoughts about Black people and people who are different than she is in general. Don’t reveal your identity at first. Just listen. When the time feels right, share who you are and that her comment hurt your feelings. Begin an honest conversation and see where it goes. That will tell you whether the two of you should remain friends.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I babysat for the sweetest couple ever, but their children were a complete nightmare. I was already on the fence about having kids, and I thought that babysitting for a long period of time would be a good way to get some experience. The kids that I ended up babysitting were absolutely awful and furthered my hesitancy about having kids of my own. I no longer feel that I am prepared for that type of responsibility. Could this be an overreaction on my part? — Hesitant
DEAR HESITANT: Do not let these children influence your decision to have your own. Yes, children can be a lot of work, and they surely require a lot of attention and care on the part of their parents and caregivers, but children’s behavior is dramatically influenced by what their parents teach them. They have to be taught how to behave, how to treat others, how to move through space, how to be productive human beings. They have to be taught boundaries and even how to play fairly. Left to their own devices, who knows how their self-conduct will turn out?