DEAR AMY: I am a high school junior. I have a friend, "Emory," who still acts like she is a raging hormonal and ignorant 12-year-old. She takes my things and draws inappropriate pictures on them, and all she talks about is boys and sex. To complicate matters, Emory is racist. I am biracial. My skin color is quite fair compared to that of my sister. Emory often makes fun of me because of my skin color. She says things like, "You should know, you're half black," "You must like fried chicken" or "You're lucky I like you, because I hate black people," etc. At first, her remarks were mild, but now, every day, she makes some kind of racist remark directed toward me and other races. I often tell her to stop and say how mean she sounds, but she laughs and keeps at it. My feelings are always hurt, and I am tired of the comments. How do I back away from this relationship without bluntly telling her that I don't want to be friends anymore? I know I should've just backed away a while ago, but it's hard.Flustered Friend
DEAR FLUSTERED: If you are nervous that "Emory" would retaliate or make your life unpleasant, then you could start by simply avoiding her. She will likely confront you, and you will have to tell her you're busy with other things and that you two are moving in different directions.
I'd like to make a pitch for the truth, however. This is when you convey a very simple, easy-to-understand statement that leaves no room for interpretation. You say, "I don't like your racist statements. I've never liked these things you say and I should have told you earlier. But now I feel like you're just someone I don't want to be around." Prepare yourself for the possibility that she will accuse you of not having a sense of humor or of taking things too personally. Your response can be, "I have a sense of humor when things are actually funny" and "I take these things personally because they are."