Yale honors Black girl who was wrongly reported to police

yale black girl

The girl was trying to rid her town of insects when a neighbor called the cops on her

When Bobbi Wilson (not pictured above) was trying to rid her home town in New Jersey of an insect pest, her neighbor called the cops on her because they thought Bobbi was suspicious. Now, Bobbi Wilson is being honored by The Yale School of Public Health to compliment her for her efforts to help her town get rid of an insect plague. 

Insect pest

Nine-year-old Bobbi Wilson, a Black girl from Caldwell, New Jersey, was walking around her neighborhood spraying trees with a mixture of water, dish soap and apple cider vinegar to kill Lanternflies, insects native to Asia that harm trees by sucking their sap. Scientists advise that people kill the insects in order to protect the trees and greenery. And Bobbi, as someone who aspires to be a scientist some day, wanted to help out. But while she was trying to do good for her community, one of her neighbors called the police. According to The Guardian, the neighbor said that Bobbi looked suspicious. The caller reportedly said: “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees … I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though.”


The police stopped by and questioned the girl. Luckily, nothing happened. But Bobbi’s family says that the neighbor put her daughters life in danger that day. Especially, considering how Black and Hispanic children have a higher risk of being shot by the police. When Ijeoma Opara, an assistent professor at the public health school saw the news coverage, she invited Bobbi and her sister Hayden, to meet Black women at Yale who were working to be scientists, just like Bobbi wanted to be. In November, the family toured Yale together and  when they came back, the Yale Peabody museum’s entomology collection manager, Lawrence Gall wanted to thank Bobbi for the work she’d been doing. Bobbi had been collecting lanternfly specimens and had donated them to the museum. According to The Guardian Gall told Bobbi: “We’re so grateful for all of the work you’ve done … in New Jersey, and your interest in conservation and checking out the lanternflies’ advance.”

Opara explains why Yale decided to take a special interest in Bobbi. She said: “Yale doesn’t normally do anything like this. This is something unique to Bobbi. We just want to make sure [Bobbi] continues to feel honored and loved by the Yale community.”

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Source: The Guardian | Image: Unsplash, Kindred Hues Photography