Advice From the Feature Section

Q: I am the only non-African American in a room of three, and my roommates constantly make me feel as if I should not be there. They always criticize the clothes I wear, my hair styles and the people I hang out with. I am afraid that if I confront them the situation will turn worse. Please help.

-Not a Sista

Dear Sista,

I have a couple of questions for you. Have your roommates tried to understand you as a non-Black person? Do you ever think about where they are coming from? Maybe the three of you just need a good old-fashioned talk. As you have said, you have not confronted the situation for fear that it will get worse. But guess what? Your silence may keep the tension tame, but it will only be temporary.

Trust me. Nothing good ever came from someone not speaking up for themself, and it is not fair to you or your other two roommates. You pay just as much money as the others to live in that room, and you should not be uncomfortable (for any reason) in your home away from home. However, you cannot expect your roommates to read your mind. I doubt very seriously that they were breastfed by Miss Cleo, so I am pretty certain that they are not psychic! They may have no idea that their words are affecting you as much as they are.

So talk to them, talk to them, and talk to them some more! I honestly believe that you will eliminate a lot more tension this way. You could actually be surprised by how much the three of you may really have in common.

Q: I have a friend who is madly in love with this RA, but he is way older than her, and she is afraid that he is going to “shut her down.” He may think that she is too young and immature. My friend eats, drinks, and sleeps this guy to a point where she is stalking him. Please help me help her to either get over him or address him.

-Friend Trying to Help a Friend

Dear Friend,

I have got to hand it to you; you really are a very devoted buddy! If your friend is as obsessed with this guy as much as you claim, it must be putting a strain on the friendship. However, that is another can of worms which we will bust out on a later date. You want to know how to help your girlfriend to either get up the guts or shut up. So, here goes.

People have been known to disagree with me, but I feel that the shock treatment is always a winner. I am not talking about strapping electrodes to your friends head and frying the affection for this guy out of there, but you should “shock” her back to reality. Give her two possible scenarios of what could happen with the guy: one negative and one positive. Both are meant to turn her away.

The negative picture speaks for itself; it is bad! He is a terrible guy (who kicks puppies) with irreconcilable faults (he lies to priests during confession). Of course she does not want that.

The positive picture is a little tricky, but in your case, I really believe that it could work. First you paint the guy as the 2002 Boyfriend of the Year. He is a great listener; he surprises her after class; he knows her likes and dislikes inside out; he is always there-and this is where the negative part comes in. He stalks her, just as she is currently doing to her romantic prospect. Your friend does not want this either.

All this work is meant to do two things. Number one, your friend should really think about how serious she is about her crush. Would she really be able to love a possible canine-kicking liar? Number two, this exercise should make your friend think about her present state of mind when this guy is concerned. She may not realize that she has become a borderline stalker. Hopefully the second scenario will help her realize this.

All in all, your friend should get over this guy. If that does not look like it is going to happen anytime soon, help her muster up the courage to talk to him. Make her see the qualities in herself that this potential suitor will see. Encourage her to dismiss the slight age difference. It is only a number, right?