The episode might seem familiar to most of us: A person of color is minding their own business and a white person notices something out of the ordinary and calls the police.
This type of racial profiling has occurred at numerous occasions in the past few weeks along, and now it has happened again at a prestigious Ivy League institution when a white female student summoned the cops after seeing a black woman sleeping in the campus common room. The incident sparked outrage on social media about racial discrimination which is becoming all-too common in America.
Getting in Trouble for Napping
The latest episode in a chain of troubling events occurred last Monday when a black graduate student, named Lolade Siyonbola, from Yale University had fallen asleep in the dorm’s common room after an entire day of writing papers.
After having been asleep for just half an hour, she was suddenly awoken from her nap by another white student who threatened to call the police on her if she didn’t leave the common room immediately.
In the video footage of the confrontation that took place between the two students, the white female was heard telling Siyonbola that she had no right to sleep in the common room.
Siyonbola recorded the entire incident on her phone and uploaded the video footages from that night on her Facebook page, where the posts received thousands of views and comments from the social media community, accusing the white Yale student of racial discrimination.
In her post, Siyonbola said that she pays tuition just like everyone else in the university, and it’s unfair for someone else to tell her that she doesn’t deserve to be there.
Confronted by the Police
Two police officers were summoned to the common room where they asked 34-year-old Siyonbola for her college ID to ensure that she was really a student at Yale. After protesting against the officers’ demand, Siyonbola eventually gave them her ID and said that she shouldn’t have to explain her existence to every white person who accuses her of something she hasn’t done.
The police looked up her name in the database but after some initial confusion about the name on her ID not matching the one on school records, Siyonbola was free to go back to her dorm room. A spokesperson from Yale explained that the name of the 34-year-old’s ID card was what she preferred to be called which is why it did not match her official birth name in the school database.
The video footages posted on Siyonbola’s Facebook profile received over 500,000 views and 8,000 shares. Many people commented on the videos expressing their concerns over the increasing number of racist incidents in the past few weeks.
The dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences sent out an email to students, in the wake of the incident, in order to promote inclusivity and get the students’ opinions and suggestions regarding the matter.
Other Incidents Around the Country
This is the latest of the several incidents in the past few weeks where cops have been called on people of color for no apparent reason. A month ago, Starbucks stirred up controversy after the manager called the police on two men who had sat down in the coffee shop without buying anything and had asked to use the bathroom.
The employees had turned down their request and said that only paying customers were allowed access to the restrooms. A few moments later, the two men were taken out of the coffeeshop in handcuffs, although no charges were filed against them.
In another recent event of racial discrimination, a white woman called the police after seeing three black strangers leaving the neighboring house, thinking they were burglars. The trio was actually checking out of their Airbnb rental where they had been staying as paying guests for the past few days. The neighbor who had called the police said that she noticed something suspicious when the strangers didn’t smile or wave back at her.
The Airbnb host agreed with the woman and said that if the guest had just smiled at her and told her that they were just checking out of their Airbnb rental, the situation could have been avoided altogether. The attorney representing the black filmmakers who were mistaken for burglars, said that his clients had the right to not smile back at the woman. He added that black people should not be forced to smile at white people in America just to protect their lives.