Yale honors black girl reported to police for spraying invading lanterns


Yale University has honored Bobbi Wilson, a 9-year-old black girl who was called by police after spraying invasive dappled lanterns.

The Yale School of Public Health held a ceremony to celebrate Bobbi’s efforts to eradicate invasive species on Jan. 20, according to a university press release.

The ceremony was also an opportunity to recognize Bobbi’s donation of her personal collection of spotted lantern flies to the Peabody Museum at Yale.

“Yale doesn’t normally do anything like that…it’s something unique to Bobbi,” Yale School of Public Health assistant professor Ijeoma Opara, who organized the event, said in the release. the university. “We wanted to show her bravery and how inspiring she is, and we just want to make sure she continues to feel honored and loved by the Yale community.”

In October, Bobbi was testing a homemade repellent for spraying mottled lanterns in her hometown of Caldwell, New Jersey. State agricultural departments across the country have urged Americans to kill invasive insects, which pose a threat to native trees and plants.

But Bobbi’s quest to help remove invasive species was cut short when a neighbor called the police to report “a short black woman walking, spraying sidewalks and trees at Elizabeth and Florence.”

Bobbi’s mother, Monique Joseph, previously told CNN the incident confused and upset her daughter.

The incident drew attention to the “adultification” of young black girls, who experts say are treated more harshly by police than their white counterparts.

The ceremony was Bobbi’s second visit to Yale. She was invited to visit the university shortly after the police incident.

At the ceremony, Joseph praised Opara, who runs a mentorship program for black teenage girls, for welcoming and supporting her Bobbi as well as her 13-year-old daughter, Hayden.

“Dr. Opara, you have been a blessing,” she said, according to the press release. “You are part of our testimony and what it means to have a community of incredible scientists and doctors, handsome, black, and smart, and more important than that is your heart and your passion for the work you do.

“You helped us change the trajectory of this day,” she added.

For Joseph, the incident became an opportunity to speak out against racism in his town and across the country.

“I am aware that this happened to us, not to us,” she said at the ceremony, according to the statement. “The reason Bobbi is here, and we’re not grieving, is because someone above wanted us to be a part of changing racism in our city…It’s because we have Bobbi that we can stand here and do something about it, speak for ourselves.

“I’m not just speaking for Bobbi. I’m not just speaking for my daughters. I speak for the children,” Joseph continued. “I speak on behalf of everyone who ticks that ‘other’ box, who has racism against them, prejudice against them.”

Bobbi’s mottled lantern collection has already been expertly assembled and is on public display at the Peabody Museum, according to the statement.


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