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.
"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.