Bonita Tindle breaks silence about viral dreadlocks video

Miranda Bolar

Bonita Tindle spoke out on her Facebook page for the first time since the video of a confrontation between her and a white student with dreadlocks, Cory Goldstein, went viral March 28.

Tindle talked about how her life has changed significantly over the past few weeks regarding the contents of this video. She stated in her Facebook post how the video, now with more than 3 million views, and threatening online comments affected her life.

“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,” Tindle said in her Facebook post from April 11.

The post, which was initially public, no longer appears on Tindle’s public profile.

Some comments went further and leaked her personal information online.

“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,” Tindle said.

She went on to talk about how what was caught on camera was not the full story. Tindle claims the incident began with her passing out flyers, and after Goldstein walked by, Tindle joked about his dreadlocks. She says Goldstein then called her a bitch and that part was omitted in the viral video.

“As a black woman, verbal assault by men comes easily as women are dehumanized, objectified and over-sexualized by them,” Tindle said in the post.

Tindle’s story corresponds with witness Maddy Gray. Gray, a communications major at SF State, said the viral video started halfway through the exchange.

“He called her a bitch after she tried to give him a flyer so she went to talk to him about his dreads and not to call her a bitch (naturally),” Gray said in a public Facebook post a day after the initial incident.

Although Goldstein denies calling her a bitch, he posted on Facebook April 2 about how he was sorry for what has happened after the video and wishes they could have spoke in a different way.

“I never called her a bitch,” Goldstein told Golden Gate Xpress. “I’m not that kind of person, that’s not what I’m about, that’s not what I’d do.”

Tindle also had a problem with the way the video was presented online.

“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,” Tindle said in her post.

She also defended her actions by saying that Goldstein actually touched her first and that her actions have not been “legally deemed assault.”

“I tried to continue to talk to him,” Tindle said. “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.”

Tindle declined to speak with Golden Gate Xpress.

Bonita Tindle’s post from April 11: 

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

Cory Goldstein’s post from April 2:

I really need to get this off my chest after a close friend helped me finally figure out my thoughts on the situation. Listen if you want to rock locks than absolutely do it, not a single person on this planet can tell you otherwise. Now if you are a person of privilege especially a white person rocking dreads than be aware of the cultural ties (both within African culture and other cultures) that dreadlocks hold. People have been oppressed for a very long time and in truth are still oppressed today, so be aware that by rocking locks you may trigger a deep emotional response from someone. Which is completely within their right, but by engaging in active communication we can work through these issues. In a perfect world no one would be judged by their appearance but we don’t live in such a world so understand the adversity that people have to go through and have gone though in the past is very important.But at the same time it is your body and your rules, so if you want to rock locks then absolutely do it ♡♡♡♡♡ Lastly I want to apologize to the girl in the video because no one deserves the amount of backlash she received, I want her to know that I feel where she was coming from and wish we could have talked in a more positive and loving situation ♡

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article inaccurately summarized Tindle’s statement. Tindle never said that she attempted to hand Goldstein a flyer.
UPDATE: The post no longer appears on Tindle’s public Facebook profile.