When A Little Girl's Friend Was Confronted With Racism, She Knew Just How To Respond

"Let us take note. There’s so much on the line. But love can prevail."

In a time where it can be difficult to find people expressing empathy for others, one little girl named Avery is here to show us exactly how it's done.

Avery's mom, Rachel Macy Stafford, shared a heartwarming post on the Facebook page for her blog, The Hands Free Revolution, on August 13. Stafford, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, wrote about a recent conversation she had with Avery, who is white, after a particularly tough day at school involving Avery's friend, Laila, who is black.

"I'll never forget what my daughter said after her best friend was subjected to a racist comment on the school bus one afternoon," Stafford writes, per Refinery29.


"'I asked her if she was okay,' my child said tearfully. 'She didn't say anything, so I just scooted closer.' Reluctantly, she admitted, 'I didn't know what to do, Mama, so I just hurt with her.'"

The phrase "I hurt with her" is what really stuck with Stafford, who was astounded by her young daughter's ability to recognize and feel Laila's pain. "It took me a moment to recover from that," she admits.

The mom of two tells Babble that Avery and Laila have a special bond and have always had one another's backs over the course of their three-year friendship. "I've noticed how they look out for each other. Whether one gets hurt on the playground … whether one is getting new glasses and needs an honest opinion … whether one needs encouragement at basketball tryouts … whether one is frightened by a dog … they respond compassionately to each other's needs," she writes in the lengthy post.

In one particular instance, the pair attended basketball camp, and as the only two girls in the group, made sure to stick together and support one another as best they could. "As I dropped my daughter's friend off on that final day of camp, my daughter said, 'Thank you so much for going with me to that new camp. If you hadn't been there, I don't know what I would have done!'" Stafford recalls. 

"Her friend stopped, looked right into my daughter's face and said, 'If you ever have to go to a new basketball camp, don't worry. I will always go with you.'" 

For Stafford, this is yet another example of compassion and kindness — two things that, with the resurgence of white nationalist groups and hateful rhetoric — seem to be in short supply today. However, instead of despairing, Stafford thinks we can all stand to learn a lesson from Avery and Laila.

"What if we collectively remember, 'I'll hurt with you,' is something we can all do when we don't know what to do?" she asks. "What if we collectively look into the eyes of our brothers and sisters to acknowledge their story and their pain rather than closing our eyes or looking away?" 

Though she doesn't get overtly political or mention the recent Unite the Right rally by name, it's obvious the events of the past few weeks and months are on Stafford's mind. "I think we can all agree there is a lot on the line for our country right now. Unity, peace, progress, understanding, and love are all on the line, and it's hard to know if they're going to make the cut," Stafford says, adding Avery and Laila give her hope. "Let us take note. There's so much on the line. But love can prevail."

Stafford's moving post has struck a chord with millions of Facebook users, many of whom shared stories about their own similar friendships or similar relationships their children have.

In fact, in a follow-up post on August 17, Stafford reflected on all of the attention her story about Avery and Laila had gotten so far. "Since its posting on Sunday morning, the story of my daughter and her best friend has reached 1.5 million people and garnered 400 of the most hopeful and healing comments on the internet — many of which contain pictures of friends like Avery & Laila who are doing life together," she writes.

The message of Avery and Laila's friendship may be simple, but it's one we can all stand to hear and see more often.

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