Over the past week, we at The Root have added hashtags to various incidents of racial bias that have crossed our radars. There was #MovingInWhileBlack , #BlackWhileAirBnBing and #CouponingWhileBlack . #DiningWhileBlack , frankly, has too many examples for us to enumerate, and just today, we ran a story about a couple being denied a money order—with cash in hand—while black.
Now, it looks like #NappingWhileBlack can be added to the list.
On Monday, a black graduate student at Yale was interrogated by police for 15 minutes after a white grad student reported her for napping in a common room.
As the Yale Daily News reports, Lolade Siyonbola says she was napping in a common room in the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) when she was confronted by a white female grad student who told her she couldn’t sleep there.
The white Yale student then called campus police.
Siyonbola captured a brief video showing the tail-end of her interaction with the white grad student.
After snapping a few photos of Siyonbola, the woman tell her, “I have every right to call the police, you cannot sleep in that room.”
“Continue,” an exasperated-sounding Siyonbola says as she waits for an elevator. “Get my good side.”
Moments later, alone in the elevator with the video still running, Siyonbola says, “I’m going to start another video when the cops get here. Hopefully they do come.”
In the Facebook post, Siyonbola says the white grad student had called the cops on a friend of hers earlier in the year for getting lost in her building.
A second video, this time of Siyonbola’s interaction with the cops, shows her opening the door to her dorm room to prove to campus police she lives in the building. Still, the police request her school identification card, which Siyonbola reluctantly gives. Because her name was entered incorrectly into a student database, it took more than 15 minutes to verify Siyonbola was a Yale student.
“We need to make sure you belong here,” one cop told her.
“I deserve to be here,” Siyonbola said. “I paid tuition like everybody else.”
The videos went viral on Yale’s campus, prompting the Dean of Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences, Lynn Cooley, to send an email to all post-graduate students on Tuesday night stressing Yale’s “inclusivity” and opening up lines of dialogue with students.
From the Yale Daily News:
“Incidents like that of last night remind us of the continued work needed to make Yale a truly inclusive place,” Cooley wrote. “I am committed to redoubling our efforts to build a supportive community in which all graduate students are empowered in their intellectual pursuits and professional goals within a welcoming environment. An essential part of that effort must be a commitment to mutual respect and an open dialog.”
In the meantime, Yale PD defended their officers, saying they followed “protocol.”