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home : columns : dear harriette January 25, 2020

12/12/2019 11:21:00 AM
Friend displaced due to gentrification

DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine got displaced recently. Her neighborhood is being gentrified, and her apartment building was sold. She had no choice but to move -- even though she had lived there for more than 20 years. It was awful. She told me that she was moving out west, but I realize I have no idea where she is. I have tried to reach her, but I've only gotten to her through social media. We used to talk periodically. I am worried that she is not doing well. What do I do? -- Displaced Friend

DEAR DISPLACED FRIEND: Sadly, when people are displaced, like your friend, life can get tough -- and fast. So-called "gentrification" does boost rental rates and often improves the businesses, safety and overall appeal of a neighborhood. The downside is that often, many people and businesses lose the ability to stay in the neighborhood they love.

Your friend may not be ready to talk to you, which is why she is somewhat off the grid. That doesn't mean that you should stop reaching out. The good news about social media is that at least she can see that you are contacting her to let her know that you care and that you want to be in touch with her. Rather than pressuring her to respond to you, just send her positive messages that let her know she is on your mind.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My grandmother is racist. I used to be able to ignore it just to make peace with the family, but now I am engaged to a Mexican man. My grandmother has said all kinds of racist things to or near my fiance. Like, she muttered under her breath once that she wondered whether he was here legally, even though she knows that he was born here. (His parents were born in Mexico.) Another time, she and my aunt started talking about another ethnic group, saying that they are stealing "our jobs." It was obvious that they were picking at my fiance, but I wasn't sure what to say.

How can I address this with my grandmother? If she doesn't stop, my fiance asked that we not invite her to our wedding. She is rude, and we don't want her or her daughter, my aunt, to offend his relatives. -- Racist Grandma

DEAR RACIST GRANDMA: Talk to your parents first to let them know your concerns. Ask for their support. Then call a meeting with your grandmother, your aunt and your parents. Be direct about your concerns. Let them know that you do not appreciate the negative, racist comments that they have been making. Remind them that you are about to marry the man you love, and you need them to respect him and his family; therefore, they need to keep their comments to themselves.

Speak directly to your grandmother and aunt, and share with them the things that offended you. Ask them to stop. If they refuse, let them know that you will not be inviting them to your wedding because they are being disrespectful to the man who is going to become your husband.

Know that this a huge step to take. It may mean that your family will be divided if you cannot come to terms. But you have every right to expect your family to treat your soon-to-be husband with love and kindness.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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