Ask Amy: I think my friends are racists

Dear Amy: I have two friends I’ve been extremely close to over the past 10-15 years.

These two friends don’t know each other, but they each have been an important part of my life – but are not my only close friends.

Based on comments made over the years, I’ve suspected that these two people were racists, but only recently have they overtly – almost proudly – declared it, and now I can no longer step over something I’ve tried to ignore.

While I completely disagree with them, I don’t believe I could change their minds; they seem to feel completely justified in their views.

I believe racism is abhorrent and cannot conceive of any justification for it. I am struggling with how I could possibly stay friends with them and not feel like a hypocrite.

I’m feeling sad at the thought of ending these friendships, yet I already feel myself pulling back.

Does a true friend consider racism a character flaw and accept them as they are, or have I outgrown these relationships?


– Antiracist

Dear Antiracist: Yes, loved ones can sometimes learn to accept and forgive character flaws.

But what you’re talking about doesn’t fall under the “character flaw” category.

Racism is a choice, and a racist person has many opportunities to learn, reflect, and change their mind.

You describe yourself as “antiracist.” An antiracist has an ethical duty to try to engage with racist people and institutions in order to inspire this kind of change.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has published a guide about how to incorporate antiracist ideals into your own life. They suggest:

Seek clarity: “Tell me more about ____.”

Offer an alternative perspective: “Have you ever considered ____.”

Speak your truth: “I don’t see it the way you do. I see it as _____.”

Find common ground: “We don’t agree on _____ but we can agree on _____.”

Give yourself the time and space you need: “Could we revisit this conversation about ____ tomorrow.”

Set boundaries: “Please do not say _____ again to me or around me.”

In order to live your ideals, it would involve you continuing to communicate with these racist friends.

I might put this effort into the category of “life’s too short,” but the final decision will be up to you.

• • •

Dear Amy: My daughter is in second grade. She is an only child and is mainly a pleasure to be around. However, her dad and I have noticed a tendency to push right up against a rule or boundary. Sometimes, especially when she feels comfortable, she steps over the line. She will act loud, brassy, demanding and – just sort of obnoxious.

She has been begging us to let her go on a sleepover at her friend’s house. The friend is a really nice girl and her parents seem great, although we don’t know them intimately. The girls have had successful playdates.

I’m not confident that my daughter will be on her best behavior while staying overnight, and her father and I wonder about the best approach.


– Wondering Parents

Dear Parents: Your daughter might not be ready to spend the night at another child’s house, but she might be ready to host another child for a sleepover. Hosting might offer her an important perspective on her own behavior.

The risk of sending her to another child’s house before she can behave in a pro-social way is that if things go south, she will not be asked back.

I do suggest that you talk to other hosting parents and ask them to give you a call if your daughter becomes aggressive, demanding, or overly obnoxious while at their home, and to let your daughter know that you will bring her home if her behavior becomes a problem.

You should coach her on ways to modulate her behavior and actually practice ways for her to be a good guest, and a great friend.

• • •

Dear Amy: “Puzzled Parent” demanded that their daughter get only As and Bs in college.

When I was in college as an older adult (40), I had mostly As and Bs. I got a C in my third-year calculus class. A lot of us got Cs.

I still remember the words of my professor: “A ‘C’ may seem bad to you, but remember, your grade is higher and you’ve learned more than those who don’t take this class, or even go to college.”


These parents need to rethink their demands.

– Been There

Dear Been There: I’m giving you a solid “A.”

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email