Add Taking A Nap in Your Dorm Common Room to the List of Things You Can’t Do While Black
Contrary to public opinion, black people don’t love to reminded about the racist world we live in. You may think that the think pieces and Black Twitter fame are worth it, but I promise you, we’d much rather not be at risk of being arrested for doing mundane shit.
In the most recent instalment of #[inserthere]WhileBlack, a white female Yale Grad student, who has been identified as Sarah Braasch by the Yale Daily News (and the spirit of Paris Geller), called the police on a black female student was taking a nap in one of the dorm’s common rooms.
According to the News, early Tuesday morning, Yale police officers interrogated Lolade Siyonbola, the black student, for more than 15 minutes, in response to Braasch’s complaint. The incident was live-streamed into two videos, Siyonbola’s interaction with Braasch and later with the police.
“You’re in a Yale Building and we need to make sure that you belong here,” one of the officers said to Siyonbola. They ask her to “sit tight” as their verify her information. To which Siyonbola responds: “I deserve to be here; I paid tuition like everybody else; I am not going to justify my existence here […] I am not going to be harassed.”
The second video shows Siyonbola voluntarily unlocking her dormitory door in HGS (Hall of Graduate Studies) to prove to the Yale police officers she does reside in the building. After this, the police officers asked Siyonbola “what she was doing in the common room, how she spells her name, and to provide her student ID for verification,” which they claim is “protocol.”
There was some confusion because Siyonbola’s name was not spelled correctly in a database of student information used by YPD. This was because Siyonbola’s student ID differed from her full name in the YPD system because it used her preferred nickname, which is quite common according to Yale Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor.
According to Siyonbola and Jean-Louis Reneson GRD ’19, another black graduate student, Braasch has called the police on a black student before.
Siyonbola invited several associates, including Reneson, to a meeting in the HGS common room on February 24. Reneson got lost in HGS and then was physically blocked by Braasch from entering the common room after he asked her for directions, according to the complaint Siyonbola and Reneson made in March.
Reneson told the News that “Braasch did not appear to believe that he was a Yale student trying to enter the HGS common room for a meeting, and instead accused him of being an intruder.”
He continued on to say: “Feeling ignored, I went down to the base of the twelfth floor and eleventh floor and turned my back, but she continued to verbally assault me from the twelfth floor claiming that I ‘didn’t belong here’ and I was making her ‘uncomfortable.'”
Four police officers then showed up in HGS to inspect a “suspicious character” on the twelfth floor. After establishing that Reneson was indeed a Yale student invited by Siyonbola for a meeting in HGS, the police left.
While Yale has responded in support of Siyonbola and called Braasch’s actions “deeply troubling” as of right now, she is still enrolled as a student, despite showing a pattern of profiling black students. According to The Root: “Braasch is a philosophy Ph.D. candidate who has studied gender and law, according to Yale’s website, and who has expressed civil rights and human rights as interests in her LinkedIn.”
All this to say that not only should Braasch know better, since she literally fucking studied these things, but being a Ph.D. candidate, she is a grown-ass woman who is childish enough to block students from entering common rooms and calling the police on them. As someone who has interests in “civil rights” she should be fully away of the climate around black bodies and the police, so she knew that calling the police could lead to danger, but did so anyway.
Also, it’s a common room. If the most disturbing thing you’ve ever walked in on in your common room is a black person sleeping consider yourself lucky.
This incident is just one of many to get attention since the Starbucks incident for showing how people are just really really uncomfortable around black and brown people.
Former White House staffer Darren Martin got the police called on him for moving into his Upper East Side apartment because people thought he was breaking in…because when you are moving furniture into a house, that’s theft.
Three black filmmakers, one of whom is Bob Marley’s granddaughter, got the police called on them when they were leaving their Air B n B. What showed up were seven police cars and a helicopter. All because a white neighbor, allegedly, waved to them and they didn’t wave back. Hence, she called the police to say that there were “three black people stealing stuff.”
Be Love. So much things to say right now…. Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood. Smh. I’m sad and irritated to see that fear is still the first place police officers go in their pursuit to serve and protect, to the point that protocol supersedes their ability to have discernment. Many have suffered and died in moments like these. That’s a crazy reality check. Give Thanks for life, and the ability to stand our ground. We are stronger together. Use your voice collectively. #unafraid #mightcannotdefeatright #wewillrizetogether #buildcomeunity #strongertogether #useyourvoice #eachoneteach We have a right to be right. @iamdonisha @directedbykells @ahutchphoto @komiolaf
A pizza shop refused to honor a free buffet coupon that a black man, Link Alexander, came in to use at an NC pizza chain, because “the manager said he did not recognize the signature on the coupon.” However, Alexander grabbed his white friend who did what all good allies should do, expose the mess. Alexander’s white friend went in with the same coupon and it was accepted with no problem.
At an LA Fitness in NJ, Tshyrad Oates entered as a guest (and signed up for a 4-day guest pass) to work out with a friend, who was a member of the gym. They were then harassed by staff members who kept calling their legitimacy as customers into question even though Oates’ friend has his gym membership tag with him. They continued to work out only to have the police called on them twice. With the manager eventually kicking them out for no legitimate reason. In fact, the first time the police were called, Oates’ friend got his membership pass, scanned it, and it showed an active membership. Still, the manager not only kicked them out but said the membership was now canceled and Oates was banned. Even the cops on the scene were confused.
Thankfully, the staff members were fired and LA Fitness released a statement.
“Regrettably, our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it,” the national fitness club chain said in a statement. “Clearly, this is a longtime member with a current, valid membership. We want to clarify that no membership was canceled and no one, including the member’s guest, was banned from the club. We have spoken to the member to apologize and assured him that he and his guests are welcome in our clubs at all times.”
Let’s not forget the two Mohawk Nation students who got the police called on them while they were talking a college tour for “being too quiet” and looking “Mexican” according to the white mother who called campus police.
There is also the two black female golfers who got kicked out for “playing too slow” and the Toronto Chinatown restaurant that forced a black guest to pre-pay for their meal in 2014, but you know what I have to catch up on The Flash so I’m just gonna stop here.
(via The Root, image: Roadside Attractions)
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