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Young girl who had the cops called on her for studying lanternflies wins a major award

“We were thrilled that she was doing that.”

bobbi wilson, lanternflies, gordon lawshe

Body cam footage of the police approaching 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson and her mother.

On October 22, 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson was excited to go out into her Caldwell, New Jersey, neighborhood to see if a mixture she put together would be effective at killing spotted lanternflies. She had learned about the dangers that the lanternflies pose to the local tree population during the summer and created an insecticide that she learned about on TikTok.

Spotted lanternflies are an invasive species dangerous to trees because they feed on their sap.

“That’s her thing,” Wilson’s mother, Monique Joseph, told CNN. “She’s going to kill the lanternflies, especially if they’re on a tree. That’s what she’s going to do.”

While Wilson was peacefully working on her sustainability experiment, her neighbor, Gordon Lawshe, called the police on her. “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though,” he said, according to CNN.

Lawshe told the dispatcher she was a “real tiny woman” and wearing a “hood.”


When the police arrived, they were calm and did their best not to upset the young girl. They assured Wilson and Joseph that they had done nothing wrong. But the mother couldn’t believe that the police were called on them by a neighbor they knew.

“Mr. Lawshe told Mrs. Joseph that had he known that it was her daughter that he had seen, he certainly would not have called the police. Mrs. Joseph did not accept Mr. Lawshe’s apology," Lawshe’s attorney, Gregory Mascera, told CNN.


Rebecca Epstein, the executive director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, says that the incident may have been an instance of “adultification bias” where young Black girls are treated like they are much older than white girls of the same age.

“It’s a very pervasive form of bias that does not know boundaries, in terms of which fields it occurs in. In emergency rooms, we’re seeing it affect the treatment and diagnosis of Black girls. In schools, we’re seeing it come up in the form of harsher and more frequent discipline against Black girls,” Epstein said in an interview with CNN.

The fact that a 9-year-old girl had the police called on her for any act is a depressing sign of the times in America. But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. In the aftermath of the incident, a community of people stood up for Wilson and praised her for her dedication to sustainability.

A group of Black female scientists at Yale hosted Wilson and her family in November. She toured various laboratories and was invited to submit lanternfly specimens to the university's entomology department.

The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions honored Wilson with its Sustainability Award after it learned about her work with spotted lanternflies.

“We were thrilled that she was doing that,” Ann Marchioni of the ANJEC told the Daily Beast.

Wilson was given the award on Tuesday, December 6, and science communicator Jason Bittel was on hand to talk about spotted lanternflies and how he got into science writing.

“When I saw what happened with Bobbi, my heart immediately just sank," Bittel said, according to New Jersey Hills, "because what I saw in her I was doing as a young boy. We were celebrated, if anything, no one called the police on us or chided us in any way."

Bittel said that Wilson’s dreams could have been crushed the day the police were called on her. But the community stepped up to preserve her passion for science. To promote her interest in science, Bittel presented Wilson with a tub full of interactive materials and gave books to her mother so her daughter could learn more.

"When this incident originally happened, I had one goal. It was to change the trajectory of that day for Bobbi," Joseph said. "I can't say I've done it all myself. It wasn't just me, it was the community. … It was friends near and far that understood what happened."


This article originally appeared on 12.13.22

True

Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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The TikTok channel Mr. Kitters the Cat (@mr.kitters.the.cat) gives us a cat's-eye view of the world with a camera attached to Mr. Kitters' collar. And the result is an utterly delightful POV experience that takes us through the daily adventuring of the frisky feline as he wanders the yard.

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Dad shares family's confusion when his young son demanded 'people chicken' for dinner

It took them awhile to figure it out, but once you see it, you can't unsee it.

"People chicken" sounds…disturbing

One of the best parts of having kids is having a full-time, front row seat to the way they interpret and use language as they grow. There's the classic mispronunciations of "spaghetti," of course, but there are also one-of-a-kind terms they coin based on their limited vocabulary and the unique way they look at the world.

Kids say the darnedest things, and as Dillon White shared on Instagram, one of those darned things could be a young child requesting "people chicken" for dinner. Not just requesting, but demanding: "I WANT PEOPLE CHICKEN!!"

People chicken. There are only so many ways to interpret that, all of which could land you on the FBI's radar.

Of course, it was a small child saying this, so there had to be an explanation.

White explained that he and his wife tried everything to get their kiddo to clarify what he meant by "people chicken," including having him draw a picture of what he was wanting. Unfortunately, the stick figure person he drew did not help relieve any concerns that their child might be a cannibal.

Finally, White's 7-year-old daughter came up with a solution that revealed what her younger brother wanted. It was not, in fact, chicken made out of people. Phew.

Watch:

It's true. Once you see Colonel Sanders' bow tie as a stick figure, you can't unsee it.

Even KFC's official account responded to the video, writing, "You see it once, and you can't unsee it." HA.

White was not alone in his kid seeing the stick figure Col. Sanders.

"The SAME thing (conversation) happened to us 22 years ago!! My toddler was practically throwing himself trying to make us understand that he wanted 'Old Man Chicken'!!!!!! And yup, it was KFC he was asking for. We have referred to it as ‘Old Man Chicken’ all these years now 😂!!" shared on commenter.

"About halfway through we figured out what he was talking about but that’s only because my kids have been saying for years that the KFC man is a stick figure with a really big head. Tell Mason he’s not the only kid who thought that.Lol 😂😂😂" shared another.

"I think I’ve been working with children too long because the instant you said people chicken my brain said 'that’s kfc,' 😂 wrote another.

Other people chimed in to share their kids' hilarious naming conventions for chicken places:

"My son was in tears for 'Pinky Toe.' Turns out he thought the Chick-fil-A emblem was a foot 😂," wrote one parent.

"Lol. My daughter refers to Chick-fil-A as 'foot' because their logo actually reserved a footprint. So interesting thinking of the different ways that children see things that we adults don't. It's amazing!" shared another.

"My kids call Buffalo Wild Wings 'stinky skunks' because from a distance, the logo looks like a skunk to them. We went through a similar very confusing moment to figure that one out as you can imagine, 🤦♀️🤣" shared another.

White is right. We should let kids name everything. They're so much better at it than adults are.

You can follow Dillon White on Instagram here and TikTok here.

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Person in crisis: I honestly don't know right now.

Us: Okay…well…you let me know if you need anything—anything at all.

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