Campus Free Speech

Student Allegedly Attacked Female Basketball Player Because Her Hairstyle Was 'Cultural Appropriation'

Braids aren't for white girls.


Paul Prescott

Authorities charged a Hampshire College student with assaulting a member of Central Maine Community College's basketball team over a dispute about cultural appropriation. Really.

The Hampshire student, 20-year-old Carmen Figueroa, allegedly started a fight because the basketball player had braided her hair in a manner that upset Figueroa. She walked up to the visiting player—during a basketball game—and demanded that the player remove the braids from her hair, according to

Figueroa is a female student of color. The basketball player was a member of the women's team. Her ethnicity is not stated in news articles, though it seems likely she's either white, or belongs to some other race whose members aren't allowed to braid their hair Latina-style, according to Figueroa's world view.

Here's how the encounter unfolded. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports:

When the players did not comply and began to leave the building, Figueroa allegedly initiated a fight towards one of the players. At the same time, another unknown Hampshire College student pulled the hair of a visiting women's basketball player causing her to fall to the ground, according to court documents.

While the player was on the ground, police allege that Figueroa kicked and stepped on the player causing injury.

Another Maine player attempted to protect her fallen teammate but Figueroa "grabbed her by the head and threw her to the ground," according to court documents.

In court last Friday, Figueroa pleaded not guilty.

I realize that most accusations of cultural appropriation do not end in violence. (Some do.) But it's a ludicrous belief, even when not backed up by force. Who is teaching these liberal students that they have the right to bully people for dressing and styling themselves in imitation of other races? Who is peddling the absurd notion that the right to wear braids, or hooped earrings, or sombreros, or geisha costumes belongs to some people, but not to others? Shouldn't Hampshire College be fostering liberal, cosmopolitan values among its students?