Someone Called the Police on a Girl Catching Lanternflies. Then Yale Honored Her.

Author: Yuvi February 2, 2023  Someone Called the Police on a Girl Catching Lanternflies.  Then Yale Honored Her.

The neighbor gave the police Bobbi’s location and said that she was wearing a hood, according to a recording of the call.

“I don’t know what the hell she’s doing,” he caller said. “Scares me though.”

Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor of public health at Yale who also directs its Substance Abuse and Sexual Health Lab, said she found Bobbi’s story especially compelling. It is closely aligned with her research interests—the impact of racism on Black girls and other children of color. It represented a phenomenon that she and other researchers have called the “adultification” of Black girls, who, they say, are more likely to be seen as more criminal and less innocent than white children.

“Often our society, we don’t view Black children as children,” Dr. Opara said. “We see them as much older than what they are. They end up getting less protected; they end up getting judged more. They end up not being forgiven for mistakes.

Dr. Opara asked her Twitter followers to help her find Bobbi in November after watching a video of her mother and older sister, Hayden, 13, speaking about Bobbi’s experience during a borough council meeting. She offered to give the family a campus tour so she could visit Yale’s labs and meet other Black female scientists — a small group on campus whose members now call themselves Bobbi’s “Yale Aunties.”

In addition to honors from Yale, Princeton, the American Museum of Natural History and a host of other universities and state and local officials have recognized Bobbi for her lanternfly solution. In July, both Wilson sisters will attend a summer research program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on scholarships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young scientists.

Ms. Joseph said that the support for Bobbi and her family has come from “far and wide.” Her primary concern, she said, was for her daughter’s mental health; After the incident, Ms. Joseph said she made it her goal to turn an otherwise traumatic day for her daughter into a positive experience.

Dr. Opara agreed with that assessment.

“Those lanternflies that had someone call the cops on her are now at Yale,” she said. “I am just in awe of just how beautiful these events have turned.”

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

2 February, 2023, 10:38 pm

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