Dear Straight Talk: I’m 16. My cousins, adopted from Kenya, ages 14 and 15 are visiting. I never figured my friends were prejudiced, but my best friend says she isn’t “comfortable” staying the night “right now” (they are staying in my room). We often have sleepovers with several girls in this room so this makes no sense. Some other friends say it’s because my cousins are black. I am in shock! How do I deal with this? — Anaheim, Calif.
Editor's Note: Speaking out against racism, while reaching out with love to the “racist”, isn’t easy to stomach for those against racism. It feels justifiable to detest people who harm others. But detesting others just feeds the engine of separation, generalization, and superiority from which racism springs.
People with a racist mindset are ignorant, fearful, or have learned this mindset. When we meet such people and react in horror and disgust, we make some progress in the fight against racism (note the world: things are better than 50 years ago; this kind of peer pressure does help), but, (note the world again), we also have a long way to go. This action often divides people who then cling to their beliefs even tighter.
Let’s each help move the world into a just and thriving place by recognizing that we all are imperfect and damaged goods with judgments and stereotypes about the world and each other. Reaching out in love and empathy to each other, with an invitation to move past these things, will change the world the fastest. —Lauren
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