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May 10, 2017 10:34 AM

UNH student says others behaving improperly toward Mexican culture on Cinco De Mayo

DURHAM — A University of New Hampshire student's video calling out another student for wearing a poncho on Cinco de Mayo has sparked a national conversation about cultural appreciation.

Danique Montique, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, posted to Facebook about her feelings regarding the "students who chose to demean and appropriate Mexican culture," on Cinco de Mayo.

In her post, Montique added a video posted to YouTube of her yelling at a student for wearing a poncho, saying he is perpetuating stereotypes of Mexican culture.

The post has been shared more than 1,500 times and created heavy debate among commenters.

Some are arguing Montique was in the wrong and that the students were just having fun.

Others argued that if Montique felt this way about Cinco de Mayo, what right does she, or other's who aren't Irish, have to celebrates St. Patrick's Day or those who aren't Christian to celebrate Halloween, Easter or Christmas?

Many felt that Montique was being racist because she is a black woman advocating for Mexican justice. Several commenters who identified themselves as Mexican said students wearing ponchos, sombreros, and fake mustaches on Cinco de Mayo did not offend them.

In the video, Michael, the student Montique is speaking with says, “I am not making a racial statement. I’m celebrating a holiday and having fun. I’ll say it to the camera. Everyone: I love every person. I love every color, no matter what they are. I am having fun. I’m celebrating.”

In the video, which had been viewed almost 300,000 times by noon Wednesday, Montique explains to Michael that he is not showing appreciation for Mexican culture but is instead appropriating it. He responded by saying, “Mike wears whatever he wants.”

When asked about the post, Montique told NH1 News she never expected the post to go so far, but that she would certainly do it again.

"Bigotry will not win," she said. "I've received a lot of death threats for this post. I'm glad others are finally hearing my voice. I know I can't change the world alone but I hope at least some have learned from this. The conversations are being had and that's all I care about."

Despite the uproar of negativity Montique received from her post, many professors, students and New Hampshire residents supported her.

Delta Xi Phi, a multicultural sorority at UNH, wrote a letter asking for cultural respect.

The sorority agreed with Montique's view that wearing a poncho is cultural appropriation and kindly asked students to stand with them as they promote multi-cultural awareness and stray from the traditional Cinco de Mayo experience at UNH.

"We highly discourage participating in the misappropriation of this culture such as wearing sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches, holding the flag (dragging the flag on the ground, etc.) as it has become an extremely inaccurate representation for the Mexican culture and disrespectful to those identifying as Mexican or Mexican American."

They also touch upon the reason Cinco de Mayo is celebrated, referencing the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle de Puebla in 1862.

Many professors stood behind the sorority's letter on Facebook and wrote in a letter that they "disseminated excellent educational materials before May 5."

The letter, signed by 31 UNH professors, offered support to all that felt similar to Montique about the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, highlighting their disappointment in UNH students following the weekend.

"If the students in my post haven't learned their lessons, I guess I'll see them next year," Montique said.

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