Society and Culture
A Friendship Gone Bye
by Trish Hubschman
I graduated high school in 1982. I spent the next two years at community college. After I finished there, I surprised everyone by being accepted at one of the top schools in New York state, the University at Albany. The dorm I was in was designated for Freshmen and disabled students.
Making friends was never easy for me, but when I had one, I cherished them. Deidra was my closest friend at SUNY Albany. She lived in the same dorm, on the second floor. Deidra was a black girl from Long Island. She was the best. We’d sit in her small room and talk and talk and talk about everything, including boys and sex.
The second semester came and we were still best friends. We were talking. Deidra told me her grades the first semester were very good. She was going to try to get into an all-black sorority on campus.
She was so excited. She said this sorority was important. I was excited for her too.
Then came the catch. “If I get in,” she said. “You and I won’t be able to be friends anymore.”
I didn’t understand. “Why not?” I asked.
“Because one of the sorority’s big rules is that the girls can’t talk to white people,” she replied.
It took me some time to absorb that. Why would a sorority do that? It sounded silly. Why would anyone want to be in a sorority that tells them they can’t be friends with someone? This hurt? “If that’s what you want,” I said.
“It’s what has to be,” she replied. “You’ll still see me. I’ll be wearing a white or red beret. That’s so people know us and we know each other.”
I nodded. My heart was breaking. “I understand,” I whispered. I reached out and threw my arms around her. She hugged me back.
“Wish me luck?” she said. I did, then got up and left her room.
She got into the sorority. She didn’t tell me. I saw her walking around the dorm with a beret on her head. She said nothing to me. I said nothing to her. I respected her wishes and kept my distance. I didn’t want her to be thrown out of the sorority because of me.
I think every black girl on campus was in that sorority. They all wore white or red berets. I lost a wonderful friend because I’m white and I never, in my life, noticed the difference between black and white
I left SUNY Albany in May for good. I never saw or spoke to Deidra again.
About the Author
Trish is the creator of the Tracy Gayle mystery series, Tidalwave, Stiff Competition and Ratings Game. She also writes short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction and articles. She is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a bachelors degree in English-Writing. She lives with her husband, Kevin, and dog, henry, in Northeast Pennsylvania. Her website is https://www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/.