“Because It’s My Culture”: White San Francisco University Student Assaulted For Wearing Dreadlocks As “Cultural Appropriation”

app1_3602743bWe have been following how universities across the country have seen an increase in claims of “micro aggressions” and impermissible “cultural appropriation” (here and here). Now that tension has become physical at San Francisco State University after student Bonita Tindle reportedly attacked a white student named Cory Goldstein for wearing dreadlocks. The claim seems to capture the race to bottom on campuses where an ever widening array of words or symbols are declared racially or culturally insensitive. However, this was so bizarre, I checked to confirm that it was not an early April Fool’s joke. Yet, various news organizations are reporting it and a YouTube video shows the attack.


The incident occurred at SFSU’s Cesar Chavez Student Center and on the clip below Goldstein asks
“You’re saying I can’t have a hairstyle because of your culture? Why?”

Tindle responds “Because it’s my culture.”

After arguing further, Goldstein is heard to say: “You know what, girl, you have no right to tell me what I can and cannot wear.” When he then tries to walk away, Tindle grabs Goldstein’s arm and a minor scuffle ensues. This would be far more compelling a case of battery than the recent flap over the Trump campaign manager video. In this case, Tindle is shown grabbing the camera or cellphone of the witness.

Here is the videotape:

Goldstein posted an Facebook statement that he was not going to file criminal charges but “I did file a formal campus police report and I decided to let the education system deal with her”.

Here is his later statement:

Now this would seem to be an easy case. A student is attacked for his appearance and then a second student is attacked for filming the attack. Yet, here is the university statement:

“We are aware of the video made of an incident which occurred on campus yesterday afternoon. University police were called to the scene of the incident when it occurred. The two individuals involved in the incident are not San Francisco State University employees. Further, no criminal charges have been pressed at this time to the University’s knowledge.

San Francisco State University promotes the rights of the campus community to engage in free speech, but does not condone behavior that impedes the safety or well-being of others. We are taking the matter seriously and will promptly and thoroughly investigate this incident through applicable University channels, including our campus student conduct procedures.”

Whether either of these individuals are employees or whether criminal charges were filed is irrelevant. If they are students or use school facilities, the university has an obligation to act. Some have already objected that the response would have been different if a black student was harassed over wearing dreadlocks and then assaulted. I have searched to find a more direct response of the university, such as suspending Tindle pending the completion of the investigation. I could find nothing.

200px-Ac.kleobisandbiton150px-Bearded_ShivaBy the way, I am not sure such culture is being appropriated here in Tindle’s mind. Kouros sculptures from Ancient Greece show men with dreadlocks as did ancient Christian Ascetics and pre-Columbian Aztec priests. They also appear in ancient Hindu pictures as well as the Sufi followers of Islam.

I do not want to see criminal charges against Tindle for such an incident even though it would meet the definition of battery. I have long been critical of the criminalization of such incidents which can be addressed at the university level. However, this does not mean that I do not view this as extremely serious. Universities are supposed to be forums for free speech as well as places for experimentation and exposure for students to a broader array of ideas and groups. This type of intolerance and physical harassment denies a basic and essential element of the educational environment.

Heavy.com reports that ” Tindle has deleted her LinkedIn page. She described herself on that site as a “Cinematographer, Photographer, Editor, Journalist, Media Specialist.” The Golden Gate Xpress, an independent news site for the school, reports that Tindle is a photography student at SFSU and is a “media intern for Associated Students, Inc.” It is a bit unnerving to see an aspiring journalist in such a physical confrontation. Notably, her roommate said that she was not surprised at all by the video given Tindle’s “passion, and social justice, and black power, and everything.”

32A7968600000578-3514848-image-a-7_1459296273280Goldstein is described as an aspiring DJ who goes by the moniker Soulr and works at a tea shop and as a counselor at a Jewish Community Center.

The university will only say that it is continuing to investigate the matter. That is certainly appropriate and I do not expect a resolution. I am surprised that we have not seen a more direct condemnation of the actions shown on the video and the suspension of the attacker (and possible barring from campus) pending a final outcome of the investigation.

43 thoughts on ““Because It’s My Culture”: White San Francisco University Student Assaulted For Wearing Dreadlocks As “Cultural Appropriation”

  1. I just wanted to mention that my original post was censored (is there a Marquette University Philosophy Professor in the house!?) – yet, the video the Manson chick posted is full of far worse language than what is dictated as the norm on the streets and in the hood.

    From The Hood

  2. There was an incident quite a long time ago – 15 or more years – where some nut went into a hair salon in Manhattan and shot someone because the stylist was coloring women’s hair blonde. He was a white guy who was opposed to people who were not naturally blonde dying their hair to that color. He felt they were somehow stealing or misappropriating the looks of natural blonds – presumably Germans, Scandinavians and other Northern Europeans. Fortunately he was quickly apprehended, because there are zillions of women and gay men who have dyed blond hair, so he would have been quite busy killing people. A hair dresser who was interviewed said roughly 90% of the “bottle blonds” that he creates weren’t born that way, as is obvious from their skin type and eye color, but society seems to favor that color. Just look at Fox News, all their female anchors look alike: young, slender dyed blondes. But this nut was denounced as a racist and charged with a hate crime. He definitely had a screw loose; but his thinking was no different than that of the S.F. State student. But I’ll bet my next mortgage payment that she won’t be charged with a hate crime.

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