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Goodbye, Amy! Hello, Eric! Baltimore native R. Eric Thomas to write new advice column

Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Lifestyles

When the Baltimore-born writer R. Eric Thomas begins his new job July 1, he won’t be the only Black person to pen a mainstream advice column, and he won’t be the first gay man. But the 43-year-old Thomas suspects he might be the answer to a future trivia question:

“I’m probably the first nationally syndicated advice columnist to come from West Baltimore,” he said.

Amy Dickinson announced Friday that “Ask Amy,” the syndicated column that has run for the past 21 years in more than 150 papers in the U.S. and Canada, will end in late July. In its place, the Tribune Content Agency, a national syndication and publishing company based in Chicago, will run “Asking Eric” by Thomas, a playwright, novelist and screenwriter known for bringing a questioning mind and a light touch to the often mind-boggling and at times absurd realities of life in the 21st century.

Dickinson, 64, said that she’s been considering quitting her job since last year, when “Asking Amy” celebrated its 20th anniversary.

“One thing about being an advice columnist,” she said, “is that I actually have spent a great deal of time pondering my readers’ problems and having my own problems versus actually living my life.

“It’s such a pleasure to be thought of as a sage person. Now I want to go out and be sage.”

 

“Ask Amy” will continue on her website (amydickinson.com) and on the author’s Substack newsletter.

“But I don’t have to do it seven days a week,” Dickinson said, “and I don’t have to pretend that gender reveals are the most important thing in a family’s life ever. I can be much more frank.”

As is often true of any changing of the guard, the choice of a gay Black man to pen a general advice column represents an effort to reach a new audience. It is a recognition that mainstream America in 2024 includes people of color. It includes those who are LGBTQ+ and nonbinary. And it includes those who, like Thomas, grew up in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. He has written that the street he lived on as a child was so infested with drugs that scenes for HBO’s TV series “The Wire” were shot outside his front door.

“We’re building a different kind of tent with my new column,” Thomas said. “My sexual orientation, my marital status, the different levels of economic access that I’ve had over my life have given me different insights. I hope that most, if not all, readers will be excited about it.”

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©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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