White student accosted for wearing serape on Cinco de Mayo
A University of New Hampshire student publicly berated and harassed a peer for wearing a serape on his way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, proudly posting a video of the encounter on Facebook.
“What’s the point of wearing a poncho? If you’re not Mexican, it’s not your holiday,” student Danique Montique exclaimed as she approached the unidentified student and a group of his friends.
One of the student’s companions attempted to explain that they were simply “celebrating” the holiday, but was interrupted by Montique, who shouted, “celebrating what?” and “it’s not your holiday!”
This prompted another student to ask which holiday would be appropriate for him and his friends to celebrate, but the query was only met with another lecture about Cinco de Mayo.
“That’s stuff for you white people to figure out. I don’t fucking know! Cinco de Mayo is not your holiday,” she again declared. “You’re perpetuating the stereotype that Mexicans drink and wear ponchos for a living. That’s what you’re doing, and you also have to keep in mind the racial tension that’s happening right now where your president claims that Mexicans only come here, drink, and steal your jobs.”
In a second video of the encounter, which Montique proudly posted to her Facebook page alongside the first, she and a friend chastise the accused student, who eventually identifies himself as Michael, for not understanding “the appropriate way to celebrate a holiday.”
Michael then attempted to suggest that his interlocutors were making “too big a deal out of it,” but they quickly dismissed his attempts to settle the dispute, saying “that’s how you feel because you’re not a part of the culture.”
“This stuff actually affects people’s lives, and I don’t think you understand that,” Montique carried on. “You’re perpetuating the stereotype, Michael. It’s not just about you wearing it. It’s about you as a man—a white man, who has the most privilege in this whole fucking country—knowing what’s happening in this country right now.”
After the encounter, Montique posted both videos to Facebook along with several pictures of students celebrating on campus, writing that she “was utterly disgusted with students who chose to demean and appropriate Mexican culture,” and casting blame on the university for failing to intervene.
“For an institution that claims it encourages diversity, where were you yesterday when we needed you the most? Why do you encourage us to come here? Yet we’re forced to defend our existence every day on this campus,” she complained, addressing the post, “Dear UNH.”
“I walked on campus miserable as if I didn’t belong. As a black woman, I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be: angry,” she concluded. “To my Mexican brothers and sisters, I am sorry. Sorry us [sic] wildcats let y’all down. Sorry this institution failed to protect you.”
Montique told Campus Reform that she hasn’t reported the incident to administrators, saying she thinks the university “is aware of everything that’s been going on but...remain[ed] silent throughout this entire situation,” remarking that it was impossible for her to avoid noticing her classmates’ costumery on Cinco de Mayo.
“Then the more I walked on the campus, the more dressed up people were, and it angered me,” she said. “I couldn’t even go to eat in the dining halls without seeing students making a culture a costume.”
Campus Reform reached out to both UNH and Michael for comment on the encounter, but did not receive a response from either in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski