May 11, 2006


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Pinings: My racist friend
by Sherry Hughes

I have a friend who says things that make me uncomfortable. She uses language that she thinks makes her sound hip (I think) but it really only makes her seem racist -- to me anyway. She is white and I am Hispanic. She uses terms like “bro” and “what up girl?” and even stuff more slangy (that comes from gangsta rap). I don’t know whether to say anything to her because I really like her and she is very nice. I just don’t think she understands that it could be seen as patronizing or something to other people.

Dear Angela,
For everyone’s sake, say something. If you think it seems racist to you, it probably feels that way to others. In your most gentle manner, tell her what you just told me. Tell her that your friendship means a lot to you but that you need to be completely honest with her – and that she may find herself in a very difficult situation someday if she is careless with her words in front of others. If she uses the excuse that “everyone says stuff like that” tell her that it doesn’t matter what others do, that she is your friend and she is doing something that bothers you – for many reasons.

She is trying to fit in in some way and portraying herself to be someone she is not. Cooptation is the term I would use to describe this – although that might be a strong word. It means that often a certain part of a culture wants to take on parts of another culture. Some Native Americans feel as if their culture is coopted by others when they take on their spiritual beliefs. It’s insulting because these folks aren’t actually Native American, and don’t want to deal with some issues that Native Americans have to deal with: (racism, poverty, alcoholism, homelessness).

Your instincts are right on. Talk with your friend. .

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers at

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at

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A Few Words From Sherry

A LIttle Joy, A Little Heartbreak
Abusive Relationship
Abusive Relationships
Advice to young mother
Annual Tips For Avoiding The Holiday Fight
Any Way To Return To 'Just Friends'?
At The Women's Expo

Back In The Same Place
Back Off, Buddy
Bad Breaks
Being Patient
Blog, Blog, Blog
Broke up

California Dreaming
Changing My Mind
Clearing It Up
Cooking Help
Confused and Angry
Consumed By The Internet
Crying All The Time
Dating Again
Falling Short
Family Friction
Friend, With Benefits
Friendly Secret
Gift-Giving Season
Go to Funeral?
Hunting Season
In Love and Confused
It's the most "beautiful" time of the year...
Keeping Things Secret
Just Sex
Lying, But Not Cheating
Might Get Married
Move Back Home?
My Boyfriend's Computer
My Roommate's Family
Mutual Intrigue
Needs Support
Newly Single Mother
No Explanation
Nosy Neighbors
Nothing Happened
Oh, Grow Up

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Our Pal Al
Pretty Tight
Publicity Stunt?
Quiet, Please
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Ruthie's Secret
Should I Stick or Should I Run
Should I Tell Him
Shy Girl
Splitting and Sharing
Stuck In A Sticky Situation
Sucky Gifts
Taking advantage
The Boyfriend & The Friend
The Difficult Coworker
The Letter
The Pain In Spain
The Sad Bride
The Ultimatum
Two Men At The Same Time
Vacation, Not

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