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Lolade Siyanbola Will white people ever stop seeing black people as criminals?

Weeks ago, a white student reported Lolade Siyanbola to the police for sleeping in a Yale University common room. Now the Nigerian wants racists to ask themselves some questions.

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play "Skin color is not reasonable suspicion" (Pinterest)

Earlier in May, black people, and just about everyone, were left puzzled when news broke of a white student who called the police on Nigerian-born Lolade Siyonbola for sleeping off in a Yale University common room.

Students and just about anyone who has a high-powered lifestyle tend to sleep off in situations like that - what Lolade did was not in any way strange. That she was reported to the police for it though speaks to a much larger problem; white people treat blacks, and most racial minorities, with such suspicion that they often call the police on them for just being.

This perception is not new. It is a systemic problem that dates back centuries, to a time when the only black people in America came in chains aboard boats against their own will.

play A white female student, Sarah Braasch, called the police on a Nigerian, Lolade Siyonbola, for sleeping in a Yale University Common room. (Heavy )


In the early years, blacks were viewed as savages, an uncivilised population that was more aggressive than rational.

During the years of slavery, that perception was further embellished; blacks were depicted as beneficiaries of white sophistication; a race that could be taught to work and dress in normal clothes, and even speak their languages, but was still as dangerous as ever.

ALSO READ: Can we start jailing bigots in Nigeria like South Africa just did?

In contemporary times, that image has been diluted by the death of slavery, civil rights and the death of segregation.

Black People are Dangerous 101

However, the image of the black person as a dangerous, unpredictable entity remains and a generation of white people are holding on to it, more so in a country where the president, Donald Trump, has been accused of racist remarks and policies.

The incident at Yale is only one in a series of cases that highlight the bias against black people in the United States.

Just this Monday, a white woman was caught on video calling the police on a black family, who were enjoying a barbeque at a park in Parkland, California.

Before that, in April, a white woman reported Bob Marley's granddaughter, Donisha Prendergast and a group of black women, for a partial burglary because as she later explained, "they did not wave to her".

play Leon Balogun and Anthony Ujah were racially abused during a Bundesliga game. (Mainz)

While these examples highlight cases of criminal suspicion, racial bias often incites into abuse for just about any reason.

This undue profiling is a reality that has become nearly normal for black Americans; for Africans in the United States and Europe, the case is almost always the same.

While warming up for a German Bundesliga game in January, Nigerian duo Leon Balogun and Anthony Ujah were racially abused by fans of the German club, Hannover.

Balogun would later tweet that they were subjected to monkey chants while warming up as substitutes.

Mainz confirmed the abuse and contacted the relevant authorities.

ALSO READ: DNA study reveals that the first Brits had black skin

A simple solution to a complicated problem

Explicit shows of racism such as these are easy to discern but in cases such as Lolade's, it's much more difficult to get people to own up to an intrinsic bias.

Lolade has a simple solution for this.


To anyone who thinks it’s ok to use the police force in this manner, examine yourself for bias against black people,” Siyonbola told Quartz via email.

Question whether you would do that to someone white, and whether you would tolerate such treatment towards your loved ones.”

As simple as it sounds, a large part of the solution requires self-examination.

While comments like Kanye West's explosive slavery was a choice comments threaten to dismiss the existence of a bias against minorities, it is clear that white people need to acknowledge the existence of a prejudice against people with dark skin, whether their name is Rodney or Lolade.

Obviously, resolving racism will take much more than this but with black people turning towards the importance of generational wealth and empowering the homestead aka Afrika, maybe, just maybe, we can begin to pick things up from there.

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