Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: My school is in chaos.

Many students are avoiding classes due to the outbreak of coronavirus in New York City. People are discriminating against Asian American students in my school. When I go out in public, people seem to avoid me more frequently. At school, the Asian kids are avoided. Being a mixed-race, I do not appear fully Asian; however, I have experienced some shunning and more than a few side-eye glances. One of my friends is scared to walk around by herself due to the amount of violence against Asians. This discrimination is starting to happen in my school as well. What should I do to fight against the paranoia? -- Paranoid

DEAR PARANOID: Sadly, when people are afraid, they lash out at others -- often without facts and figures to back them up. It is believed that this strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, originated in China, but you are obviously far away from China. As the disease spreads, some people see anyone who appears to be Asian as the cause of the disease.

What can you do? In the short term, work to keep yourself healthy. As uncomfortable as being avoided and judged may feel, turn it around and welcome the avoidance as a way of keeping separated from unhealthy people. Travel with friends who are worried so that you feel safer together. Resist the urge to debate your health status or the obvious racism that you are experiencing. This will not help you right now. You want to avoid any reason to swap bodily fluids, including yelling at others and potentially sharing spit. This virus is serious, so let the side eyes go, for now.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend of many years is possibly avoiding me. I recently texted him to see if he wanted to meet so we can catch up. He said he was too busy and wouldn’t be able to make it, which is fine. Later on, I asked if we could hang out the next week, to which he responded no. I understand he has a personal life, so I asked what would work for him. He never responded in the coming weeks. Due to this delay, I texted him and asked when he was free. Finally, he gave me a date, and our hangout was set up.

On the day we were supposed to meet, he canceled. He said it was due to the amount of work he had to do. At this point, my friend is pushing me aside. Whenever he cancels, he never calls or texts me back. Why would he do this? Does he not want to be friends? -- Pushed Away

DEAR PUSHED AWAY: As badly as this hurts, your former best friend is proving that you no longer fill that role in his life, at least not right now. Step back. You do not deserve to be treated this way, so do not allow it. Stop calling him. Stop trying to schedule a meeting. Pivot away from him and to yourself. Lick your wounds. Reorder your steps and accept that he no longer deserves the hallowed role of your best friend. It is time to move on.

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