Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Girl Named Latisha

When I first met Latisha, I was sitting in front of the student center, studying for a calculus exam and waiting for the bus.

I was a freshman in college.

"Are you waiting for the bus?" asked a tall black girl, who was wearing an oversized Tweety Bird hoodie.

I nodded.

"Are you Indian?" she asked.

I nodded again.

"I thought so," she said. "Our kinds got to stick together. We got to fight against the white people!"

I stared at her, confused.

"What tribe do you belong to?" she asked, as the bus arrived.

"Oh, I'm not that kind of Indian--" I tried to correct her, before hopping on the bus.

"See you later, Pocahontas!" she hollered back at me.

As the semesters went by, I got used to seeing Latisha around. We were both majoring in journalism, so we had a lot of the same classes. She wore that hideous Tweety Bird sweatshirt every single day.

From the moment we had our first class together, I realized Latisha genuinely believed everyone was out to get her.

A teacher would tell her to stop talking during a test.

"You're only saying that because I'm black!" Latisha would snap back.

A sorority girl would try to hand her a flyer in the hallway.

"You only want me at your party because I'm black!" Latisha would sneer.

A Mexican girl in class said she liked Latisha's Tweety Bird sweatshirt.

"You only like it because I'm black!"

And so forth.

But Latisha was never mean to me. She liked me. She would go out of her way to sit next to me in class. She waved at me in the hallways, with a cheerful smile. The greeting "Hey, Pocahontas!" became a familiar part of my college life.

She made our classes interesting by randomly going into long monologues about how everyone was against black people, no matter what the subject.

My favorite was when she used that argument to explain why the vending machines no longer sold Dr. Pepper. "Because they hate black people!" she wailed.

When senior year came, Latisha had spun out of control.

In our Interactive Media class, Latisha went on a rampage about how our professor (who was also black) hated blacks. To end her argument, she ran around the room screaming. The paramedics had to be called because our poor professor started having chest pains.

As an editor of the school newspaper, I had to assign a writer to cover another Latisha moment: she had brought former Black Panther members to our university and was trying to resurrect the organization on campus. It was causing quite a ruckus.

The icing on the cake came during our last semester of college when our Advanced Reporting professor asked Latisha why she hadn't turned in her assignment. Latisha's face twisted into a menacing scowl. She picked up her desk and threw it across the room. Everyone in class screamed, terrified. Fortunately, nobody got hurt. Campus police came and took Latisha away.

Astoundingly, she was still allowed to graduate a few months later and because of our last names, we walked down the outdoor stage right next to each other.

"You were the nicest girl I ever met, Pocahontas," Latisha told me, after we had been handed our diplomas. "Thank you for being my friend."

I felt bad when she said it. After four years, I still barely knew her. I think I had been too wary to even try.

The one thing I regret the most is that I never bothered to find out her story. What made Latisha hate the world so much? Why did she think everyone was out to get her? These are questions that now, as a news reporter, I cannot get out of my head.

Because I think her story might be sad.


Alex said...

Oh my, even from what you've said her story sounds sad. I wonder what happened to her...

Bunny Moreno said...

I've met people like her-her story will be sad but what is even sadder is that she most likely had a mix of self hatred, insecurity, and rage inside of her-dangerous mix. It was easier for her to be angry at the world than to get help and make herself a better person. Lets hope she has after all these years. xox

Arielle-HumblePieVintage said...

Yeah, I guess you meet people like that and at the time your so blown away by their craziness you don't try to find out the reason behind it. That's still no excuse for the way she acted though. I hate when people use "bad childhoods" as an excuse for their problems or actions now. Now that I'm older though, I'm more curious as to why people do/act the way they do so I try to investigate more.

sherene said...

Aww so sad story, i hope she's okay at the moment.

Meri said...

I've met people like this too, who have a chip on their shoulder and don't ever explain why I think often they aren't aware of how angry they are at the world and how it hurts (usually) only themselves.

David Macaulay said...

Wow she sounds like Ali G - I do so like your stuff BTW - always really poignant and well written.

hellosimpleme said...

Awww- poor girl. I hope shes alright and doing well now.

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

Jennifer, at first I couldn't stop laughing because I recognize that behavior. There was definitely a story behind why she acted and reacted in the manner that she did. I have sometimes wondered about people from my past. What happened to them? Are they alright? And do you know, either I ran across them on FB, Twitter, etc. and found the answer. Your paths may cross in some way, where YOU will get the answer (good or bad). It will come to you. I hope she's ok.

Priscilla said...

This is inspiring!

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Swarnali said...

That is really sad. :( I hope she is alright.

Josie said...

That is such a sad story... But it sounds like if you'd known her any better, it might have been a pretty toxic situation for you.
xo Josie

Sherin said...

That's such a sad story! I hate that there are still people who think the world are out to get them. I met another brown girl who really thought everyone white was out to get her. It was so sad!

Couture Carrie said...

Another amazing tale, darling!
Beautifully told, and totally tragic.


Tere Ávila said...

I don't understand all the words but the context yes and I think you write so nice, I read all and I want to congratuls you for your work :P

have a nice day!


The Dainty Dolls House said...

I've seen many people like that and usually there is something behind it. I'm sure your paths will cross on one way or another and you'll find the answers xx

Pratishtha Durga said...

You know, I was thinking of the same thing as I read the story. And it's kind of funny, because just yesterday, I was talking to m husband about a self-destructive girl who I shared a hostel with, and about whom I know so little.

I too hope life has been kind to her.

Vix said...

What a sad girl she must have been to have such a chip on her shoulder about her colour. Thank goodness she appreciated you and never threw any heavy objects your way. x

Shannon said...

Your story gave me chills.

And it's so true. I knew many a "Latisha" back in the day and instead of just assuming the worst, it would have been beneficial to learn WHY they acted the way they did.

Tanvi said...

I hope it all worked out for her in the end.

She must have a story for sure.

∞ © ∞

SG Angela said...

It is a sad story because an event made her to be like this. I hope she can find help.

Oh to Be a Muse said...

So as I was reading this, I could only think of two things:

1- I knew a girl in my middle school who wore a stupid Tweety bird sweater all the damn time and wanted people to refer to her as Tweety.

2- This video:

If the video link does work, just type in "FAU student racist rant" in YouTube.

ravenlocks said...

Aww...that ending made me feel sad. I really hope everything is going well for her. I don't feel bad for her, I feel bad for what she may have gone through to make her react that way towards everyone.

Did you ever see that video on youtube of that black girl freaking out about racism? I only watched 5 seconds and I couldn't see the rest. I can't believe some jackass actually filmed it and put it on youtube. That kind of thing should not ever be put on the internet. It's just sad, how people think they can post someone's melt down for everyone else to see and not even think twice about what that person might be going through.

Anyway...I kind of went on a rant there. Have a happy Monday! :)



Anonymous said...

You are an amazing writer.

Gayatri said...

Oh my goodness. I've met a few people like her. One was a white girl in Melbourne who eventually became the president of the Student Union but ruined it all by going out with a drug dealer. Anyway my point is, as much as you'd like to, you never know what their stories are. Just hope she's okay now.

jos xx said...

I know that feeling of wanting to know more of a person. she sounds just like you said - a girl who hated the world around her for a reason. I would feel the same.


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angel_i said...

I came here by accident but your story is so touching in a way...and not that unfamiliar to me...

and it also gave me vivid recall! *shivers*

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