Bonita Tindle speaks out after SFSU “Cultural Appropriation” video

Cultural Appropriation
Cultural Appropriation

Original controversial video here.

Below is the text that Bonita Tindle posted on her Facebook page.

Over the past few weeks, America has held discussions about my personal Black experience, dancing between their own definitions of right and wrong. Over the past few weeks I had to move from my home, change my cell phone number, and disable social media accounts. On March 28, 2016, a viral video was released that intentionally does not capture the full context of an encounter. While passing out flyers in Malcolm X plaza, I saw a white male approaching with dreads. Triggered, I unconsciously move my arm holding the flyer further. He does not approach me to receive a flyer and continues on to his destination. Attempting to react to what triggered me, I jokingly say in a quiet voice “Not with that hair” in the opposite direction of him. My intention was to collegially provoke thought within the man to critically think about his dreads and the racial implications it has as a non-Black person. During the entire incident including what was caught in the viral video, he never refers to the flyer, which he later would intentionally report to the police in order to create a “hate crime” narrative over the flyer. Rather, he then verbally assaults me. He called me a “Bitch.” As a black woman, verbal assault by men comes easily as women are dehumanized, objectified, and over-sexualized by them. I look for the man, going into the building, naturally, to confront him about the verbal slur, tired of being silent. Tired of being docile. I asked him “Did you call me a bitch?” He denied having called me a “Bitch.” He then asked me why I said that about his hair.

What was recorded was chopped and edited by the White male who captured part of the event on his cell phone. The White male student’s motivation is suspect in that it does not come as an objective point of view, by his own divisive word choice of “assault” (in the title of the video when posted), in order to incite controversy by framing me as the stereotype of the “Angry Black Woman” and the man in the video as a fragile white victim. He selectively edits only a portion of the encounter that contrives to cast an impression of unprovoked aggression on my part. He says in his interview that he deliberately roams around campus looking for encounters to record on his cell phone. In the video, the conversation between the white male with dreads and I was intended to be a learned opportunity. My facial expressions were never negative nor was my body language. His body language was already energetic. The male had the opportunity to try to explain to me how I should think about my space and existence as a Black person. He dismissed any consideration that I was making a valid point about White appropriation of Black culture. After, he begins to walk away. I tried to continue to talk to him. It frustrated me that I didn’t get the opportunity to have a voice. He touches me first. He touches me first (at 0.19 seconds). He places his hand on my arm to move me away to leave from the conversation. You can see this nineteen seconds into the video. I naturally respond back with touch. I nonviolently place my open hand on his shoulder. I nonviolently pull on his arm, urging him to come back to the conversation. It has not been legally deemed assault.

You can tell me that the decisions I made are right or wrong but what we need to focus on is the wrong in the response to the video. In the aftermath, I have been the subject of violence in the form of death threats, rape threats, sexual harassment, and anti-Black hate speech. Davia (David) Spain has received homophobic slurs, death threats, hate mail, and the release of their personal information although they did not take part in the incident. Further, the racist and misogynistic vendetta against me has resulted in my own personal information including home address, phone number, social media accounts, places of employment and other details about my private life leaked and mass distributed on YouTube comments, Facebook posts, and other Internet forums. To protect myself, I had to move from my house, change my cell phone number, disable my social media accounts, and have had to withdraw into a secured location in order to maintain my safety. In the process, my academic success, current work for my community, and future employment opportunities have been jeopardized. The countless hate mail, death threats, and disregard to my safety should not be the result of this video. No one deserves this compromise. There is a history of vilifying black women, there exists the stereotypical narrative of an angry black woman through out history. There is a reason that this particular video garnered millions of views. A black woman is portrayed as the aggressor and the white counterpart is portrayed as the victim. The language used to describe the video is suspect. “Black assaults and attacks white” is harsh and does not deem the video of a justly cause. What the encounter can be described as is a nonviolent physical encounter between two students. It saddens to see this kind of hate in response. It saddens me that some people can’t or choose not to understand my level of growth in regard to my culture and my blackness. The amount of ethnic studies class one takes doesn’t invalidate their personal black experience. The amount of books one reads doesn’t invalidate their personal black experience. There is no hierarchy to being aware of ones self and ones blackness. What I did was my personal choice that shouldn’t be receiving this kind of uproar. I do believe in personal rights and freedom of expression. That should never be smothered. What I don’t believe in is the participation of other cultures without any understanding of such culture and the narratives that the people of that culture experience, have it be positive or negative. These narratives of Black culture with physical appearance intertwined exists. I am a part of that narrative. A 46 second video should not define my character, myself as a person, myself as a human being.

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  1. She admits that she is a racist in the first paragraph. She also admits that she is trying to force her opinions and views upon him in which he is clearly trying to leave. Who does this woman think she is?

  2. Bottom-line…. Even if he calls you all sorts of names. IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE TO PUT YOUR HANDS ON HIM OR ANOTHER. regardless if he does it first. Why did you put your hands on the camera man????

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