Students accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for braided hair

The "Cal Poly Student Collective" posted the photo on Facebook, initially claiming that one girl was a sorority member who should have known better, given "the supposed training that every Greek organization is going through."

A progressive student group is accusing two students of "cultural appropriation" for a Snapchat photo depicting one girl with braided hair above the caption, "prettiest lil gangsta in all the land."

UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect that the Student Collective has removed its post after learning that neither of the women pictured are members of a Cal Poly sorority.

Two students at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo have come under fire for a Snapchat photo in which they are allegedly “engaging in cultural appropriation.”

The photo shows two girls dressed for a costume party. One girl has her hair braided, possibly in cornrow style, although that cannot be clearly determined from the photo. The photo’s caption reads “prettiest lil gangsta in all the land.”

[RELATED: Snapchat pic prompts mandatory ‘diversity training’ at GW]

A progressive student group called the “Cal Poly Student Collective” began a public smear campaign against the girls on Monday, making a Facebook post calling students’ attention to the photo.

“This week we received a photo depicting two Cal Poly students engaging in cultural appropriation,” the post reads. 

It also originally alleged that “one of them is a sorority member of Alpha Phi sorority at Cal Poly,” but that assertion has since been removed, along with a reference to “the supposed training that every Greek organization is going through right now.”

“We find this highly disturbing given the recent events on campus,” the revised post concludes. “We are sharing this to highlight how much more work our school and administration has to do.”

[UPDATE: The Student Collective has removed its post, telling Campus Reform that it has learned that neither of the women depicted in the photo is a sorority member. While insisting that “cultural appropriation is always wrong and we condemn it,” the group apologized for the misinformation.]

This comes months after Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong placed strict restrictions on Greek life in response to two other offensive Snapchat photos, one showing a fraternity member wearing blackface and another showing three frat members dressed as Hispanic stereotypes.

The problem with the latest photo, however, seems to be the braided hair of the student on the left, as well as possibly the use of the word “gangsta.” The other student pictured has apparently been incriminated simply for appearing in the post.

[RELATED: Cal Poly shuts down Greek life after offensive online photos]

The Student Collective describes itself as a group “committed to resisting the Trump/Pence regime and all the conditions that have fostered a neoconservative seizing of the most basic democratic functions of our society.”

“From the White House, to Charlottesville, to Ferguson, to the degradation of our public university system by administrators and corporations; we refuse to accept the mobilization of fascism that puts vulnerable communities at risk,” the group declares.

The two students have not yet been identified, but Cal Poly told Campus Reform that the administration “is aware of the photo and is looking into the circumstances of it,” adding that “Once the facts are fully known and substantiated, the university will respond appropriately.”

Campus Reform also reached out to the Cal Poly Student Collective for elaboration on their “cultural appropriation” allegation, but has not received a response.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan