DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a Black man surrounded by white people who do not understand me.
I grew up in the Deep South, where racism and inequality are still a very present problem, which is why I worked really hard to become successful enough to leave that area and never look back. I ended up in a mostly white, very safe community where everything was fine until these last few years, starting with the murder of George Floyd.
Everything that I got away from was now in my face in the news every day, and what’s worse is that the people around me don’t seem to feel the same pain I feel. They say I’m “pushing a narrative” every time I speak out about police brutality in Black communities.
It’s been almost three years now, and I’m tired of being made to feel that my pain and sometimes my fear as a Black man in this country are invalid. What should I do? What can I say to make them get it?
Black Man Interrupted
DEAR BLACK MAN INTERRUPTED: Sadly, some people will never get it, in part because it is not their experience, and partly because it is extremely difficult to face.
You have to be willing to soldier on and not give up. You also need to make allies among your white peers and leaders. In order to address inequities effectively and make a difference, you have to get folks from all sides to believe in the need for change.
The notion of “pushing a narrative” is unfortunate. The truth is that the best way to get people to understand the impact of an issue is to paint a vivid picture of it. Perhaps you can refine your narrative to include specific examples of what some people are doing to make a difference so they don’t have to imagine it. You can provide them with ideas to consider.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 40-year-old single mom, and I am having trouble dating. It seems as if I am attracting emotionally unavailable men.
I am always upfront about desiring a serious relationship, and every man who shows interest in me immediately lets me know that they are not interested in that. What am I doing wrong?
Lonely Single Mom
DEAR LONELY SINGLE MOM: While it is true that you are looking for love, for something that can last and be serious, you may be saying as much too soon. Try going a little slower next time.
Meet someone and talk. Figure out if you share interests and values. Learn about each other. Be willing to allow the dance of dating to happen. Of course you should make sure the person is available to date — meaning he is unmarried and uncoupled.
Without changing your goals, articulate them a little more slowly so that you can see who is in front of you without scaring him off. The way you get to a serious relationship is experience by experience. You create special moments together that bring you closer and make you want to choose to be together, not so much because you want a partner, but because you want each other.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.