Sleeping black Yale student who had police called on her set to graduate

New Haven

In her first local TV news interview, Yale grad student Lolade Siyonbola is finally speaking out.

“I was livid, I was livid,” she said of the encounter last May. 

It started when her white dorm-mate called campus police to report Siyonbola napping in their dorm’s common area.  

“As disappointed as I was, as irritated as I was, I wasn’t shocked,” she said. “I was just, like, the nerve.”

The police interaction lasted about 15 minutes. It ended with Yale officers demanding to see Siyonbola’s student ID before they let her go about her business.

“It was just, like, classic, textbook profiling,” she recounted to News 8’s Mario Boone. “Disrupting my time, disrupting my freedom to exist because you are programmed think that all black people are dangerous,” she told us.

Siyonbola explained she never intended for her cell phone video of the incident to go viral, generating the dubious hashtag “sleeping-while-black.”

Related Content: More controversial calls uncovered in Yale “sleeping while black” incident

“There’s live video. They can’t say ‘oh, this didn’t happen or that didn’t happen’ or ‘we didn’t turn on our body cam.'”

The incident is now a footnote in her Yale post-grad studies as she crosses off a long list of accomplishments a week before she graduates.

“It’ll be a master’s in African studies with a discipline area of sociology.”

Yet, she’s not stopping there.

“I got a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to go study at Cambridge University in the U.K., so I’ll be doing a Ph.D. in sociology there.”

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. Siyonbola admits that having officers called on her for no reason caused enormous stress.

Boone asked if it ever made her consider leaving Yale.

“Absolutely not, and give them that satisfaction? I came here to get what’s mine. I came here to get what belongs to me and what I’m entitled to, and what I need to fulfill my purpose in the world.”

Siyonbola will be awarded her degree in the official graduation ceremony next Monday.

Web Extra: Watch News 8’s Mario Boone’s interview with Lolade Siyonbola


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