Upon reading the headline, "Black Yale student fell asleep in common area and white student called police", I knew I had to write immediately.
I recall numerous times when, as a student at the University of Illinois in the 1980s, I did the exact same thing Yale graduate student Lolade Siyonbola did. I fell asleep in a common area.
Throughout my 4 year college experience, I snoozed in countless common areas across the campus: university building lobbies; the Union; library study carrels; dormitory lobbies and common rooms...
It was COLLEGE.
You're studying. You're tired. You fall asleep, and sometimes, it's in public.
As a white woman, no one questioned me when this happened.
I specifically recall the afternoon I fell asleep while studying for finals in the atrium of the English Building. I was on a curved, comfy couch, one that beckoned me to curl up and rest my eyes ... just for a minute ... and before I knew it, a security guard was tapping my shoulder, telling me it was nighttime -- and time to leave.
Waking up in a fog, my eyes scanned the sky through the atrium glass and found complete darkness. I felt so confused and embarrassed -- especially when I realized I'd been drooling.
That's the thing I remember most: The shame that I'd been sleeping so soundly I drooled.
To my relief, there'd been no one else around, and as I quickly shuffled papers into my bag, I kept looking at that little spot of drool I'd left on that couch.
I quickly left for my dorm without a single admonishment and with little more than a ding to my pride.
Ms. Siyonbola, on the other hand, woke from her own impromptu snooze to something entirely different. She woke to a nightmare I do not pretend to know.
What I do know is, it's time we wake up to what discrimination, micro aggression and racial bias looks like.
We can do so much better than this.
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