UPDATED Aug. 3 8:30 a.m. EDT —
A Black student who had the cops called on her while she was on a lunch break in a common room at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts spoke out this week.
“This shouldn’t happen to anyone at all,” a teary-eyed Oumou Kanoute said to WBZ-TV, a CBS-owned station in Boston. “Next thing you know, I see the cop walk in with a Smith employee whom I’ve never seen before and the man asked me, ‘We were wondering why you’re here?’”
Kanuote, a rising sophomore at Smith who is teaching chemistry to high schoolers as part of the college’s STEM program this summer, was accosted by an unidentified white student and campus police officer during her break in a dormitory dining hall on Tuesday. Police had received a call from the employee about a “suspicious Black male,” she said. After police discovered there was nothing suspicious going on, Kanuote posted about her experience on social media.
“It just still upsets me to just talk about it because I don’t even feel safe on my own campus and I’m away from home,” Kanoute told WBZ-TV. “I’m the first in my family to go to college. I’m doing this not only for me but for my family, for my ancestors.”
Smith College has apologized for the incident and is investigating the matter, but officials have released the employee’s name. Kanoute wants the caller’s identity to be revealed and school officials to fire the employee.
Another day brings another #LivingWhileBlack incident. An African-American student was confronted by a police officer after she only sat down to eat lunch during a work break at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts on Tuesday afternoon.
The racial profiling incident was sparked by a white college employee who reported the rising sophomore, who wasn’t identified by name, for having looked “out of place,” The Boston Globe reported. The employee’s description of the student — similar to that used to refer to people of color who are wrongfully deemed “suspicious” for being in majority-White spaces and neighborhoods — was completely wrong.
A campus police officer was called to a campus common room and quickly discovered there was “nothing suspicious about the student’s presence” at Smith, which is a private women’s college. The incident is another example of police being summoned to a scene to only investigate a Black person for living their daily life. Wow.
Did the employee take a minute to even think how calling the cops would affect the student who posed no threat?
The student, who said the employee thought she was a “suspicious Black male,” revealed her feelings about the horrible incident on Facebook. She couldn’t believe that she was targeted while working as a residential advisor and teaching assistant.
“I am blown away at the fact that I cannot even sit down and eat lunch peacefully,” she wrote in one post. “I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black. It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.”
An investigation has been launched into the incident, and the caller’s identity has not been released by the college.