Lolade Siyonbola: Yale Student Who Faced Racial Discrimination

Lolade Siyonbola was sleeping in a common room in her room when a Ph.D student who lives in the same building woke her up and called the cops on her. Here is everything you need to know about Siyonbola and the incident.

On May 8, 2018, Lolade Siyonbola, who is an African-American woman, was taking a nap in the common room of her dorm’s building. Siyonbola was studying for her finals when she fell asleep.

Late that night, a white Ph.D Yale student named Sarah Braasch (who stays in the same building) woke her up and called the cops on her. Siyonbola recorded the interaction with Braasch and the four responding police officers.

The Facebook live video posted by Siyonbola has gone viral and people are furious about the incident.

Calling the Cops

Braasch called the cops to tell them that an African-American woman was sleeping in the common room on the 12th floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies. Authorities showed up in the building at 1:45 a.m. and met Siyonbola to discuss the call made. Siyonbola explained that she was a student at the school and was studying.

In the two videos posted by Siyonbola, it shows her interaction, first with Braasch and then with the cops. In the first video, Braasch can be seen clicking pictures of Siyonbola on her phone. She told Siyonbola, “I have every right to call the police you cannot sleep in that room.”

In the second video, Siyonbola can be heard telling the cops that she deserves to be here and that she has paid tuition fees just like everybody else. She further added that she won’t justify her existence here and she won’t be harassed.

Part 1

Part 1 – Sarah Braasch, Philosophy PhD student, called the cops on my friend a few months ago for getting lost in my building. Today she messed—again—with the wrong one.

Posted by Lolade Siyonbola on Monday, May 7, 2018

 

Siyonbola explained to the officers that she was sleeping the common room and Braasch came in and turned the lights on and asked her why was she sleeping there? Braasch told Siyonbola that she is not supposed to be sleeping here and she was going to call the police.

The officers asked Siyonbola for her ID, which she reluctantly gave it to them. She further showed the cops that she lived in the apartment and opened it for them to confirm it.

The identification of Siyonbola took time because the preferred name in the system was different from the official name on the ID. The assessment of the ID took around 15 minutes.

Siyonbola took to Facebook and wrote that she is grateful for all the love, prayers, and kind words she has received.

Who Is Lolade Siyonbola?

34-year-old Siyonbola was born in Nigeria and later on moved to the United States with her family. For a while she stayed in the United Kingdom with her family.

The reason they moved out of Nigeria was because the country had a lot of violence and poverty and her mother wanted the best for her and her family.

In an interview, Siyonbola claims that moving to the United States was tough for her. She explains that she didn’t fit in because she had a thick accent. Siyonbola claims that the kids picked on her. She loved Nigeria and was upset to learn that they were never going back to her home country.

According to her Facebook profile, Siyonbola’s full name is Ololade Siyonbola, but she goes by the name Lolade Siyonbola.

A Very Talented Woman with a Bright Future

Lolade Siyonbola has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Spanish from the University of Missouri-Columbia. While studying at the University, Siyonbola was a George Brooks Scholar.

Post graduation, Siyonbola moved to New York. There, she worked for a couple of years in the tech industry as a Network Engineer then Web Developer and Project Manager. While working there, she started the Yoruba Cultural Institute and the Nollywood Diaspora Film Series.

The Yoruba Cultural Institute was started in the year 2008 to fill the gap felt by Nigerian millennials who want to speak their native language.

Lolade Siyonbola Yale

Photo: Facebook/loladeskentele

She was the Arts & Culture Editor, then Editor in Chief of Applause Africa magazine. In 2012, Siyonbola published her first book, Market of Dreams.

Currently, Siyonbola is pursuing her Master’s degree in African Studies at Yale. According to the University’s website, Siyonbola’s research at Yale, “focuses on the relationship between migration on identity formation, particularly among millennial first-generation Americans, and the role that cultural devices like language, film and textiles play in the preservation of culture. Lolade is a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow.” She started studying at Yale University in 2017 and is all set to complete her graduation in 2019.

Siyonbola also reportedly has her website where she posts her own blogs and poems.

A Poet in the Making

Siyonbola started writing songs and poems when she was a child. In middle school, she took a drama class and would perform pieces by Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes.

She was inspired by the words of Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, which is why she began writing at a very young age. She claims that most of her best lines of poetry came while she was journaling.

Siyonbola feels that poetry touches the souls of people and its way more powerful than anything else in the world.

About her book Market of Dreams, she said, “The Market of Dreams is life. Life is a market of dreams. We choose to be happy or to be sad. We choose the friends that we want. We choose our situations to a large extent. We have a lot more control over our circumstance than we give ourselves credit for.”

It is a book of poems that is based on her experiences, things, and stories she has learned in life.

She hopes that after reading the book, people will be inspired and that they feel empowered. Siyonbola plans to publish a fiction novel, which will explain the scenario of a small African country when a young new leader is elected.

Additionally, Siyonbola is a spoken word artist and has often performed under her name, “Imperial Mandela Rose.” You can watch one of her performances here,

A Petition Against Sarah Braasch

An online petition has been started against Sarah Braasch, which says that Braasch should be removed from Yale University because of several counts of harassment and racism against another student.

In the past, Braasch reportedly blocked one of Siyonbola’s friends from entering the common room, after he was lost in the stairwell and asked her for directions. The petition has already been signed by over 268 people.


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