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home : columns : dear harriette October 20, 2020

7/7/2020 9:01:00 AM
Protesting in the time of coronavirus

DEAR HARRIETTE: I really want to go out and participate in the Black Lives Matter protests, but I also have been taking quarantine very seriously as I believe it saves lives. How do I balance these conflicting principles and decide whether I should protest or stay home? -- Black Lives Matter

DEAR BLACK LIVES MATTER: Public protest is clearly bringing attention to issues of racial inequality in this country. Protests are making a difference, especially because they are ongoing and include people of all ages, ethnic groups and gender identities. They are inclusive. They are appealing. And I applaud the peaceful marchers who have worn their masks and walked for freedom.

Protesting is not the only way to make your voice heard. You can write to your member of Congress and demand change. You can pay attention to what's happening in local and national government and be a voice for change. You can write a check to an organization that is working to effect change in our country. You can read the myriad books that illuminate the roots and realities of racial injustice in our country so that you are educated on where we are, and so you can participate in helping to form where we are headed.

Back to the marches for a moment. In some cities, you can find safe zones where people can come to participate but stand on the periphery with your signs, wearing a mask, but with fewer people gathered. You can participate in ways that make you comfortable, where you are conscious of your health and of the state of our world.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in my 20s, and one of my roommates is exhibiting signs of an eating disorder. She is fixated on her weight and barely eats. How do I bring up my concern for her health and well-being without crossing any lines? I want to make sure she feels supported. At the same time, I think it would be irresponsible of me to say nothing. I am concerned for her life. -- Eating Disorder

DEAR EATING DISORDER: Thank you for caring about your friend so deeply. She is lucky to have you. It is understandable that this is a difficult topic for you to broach. And yes, you should say something.

Health professionals recommend that you do your homework in advance. Learn as much as you can about eating disorders so that you come to your friend with some knowledge, but do not try to act like an expert. Ask your roommate if you can schedule a time for the two of you to meet. Tell her your concerns -- preferably things you have practiced so that you can say them without fear. Express your observations about her eating habits, and suggest that she get some support.

For resources you can share with her for immediate support even while in quarantine, visit For your personal preparation to support your friend, visit

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