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May 11, 2017 2:51 PM

UNH student seen in 'racist blackface' on Instagram says it was bedtime facial mask

DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire student featured in an online post representing what other students are saying appears to be blackface said it was a clay mask for his face.

Twenty-one-year-old Eric Buchwald said he is wearing a red robe and a dark-gray clay mask in a photo posted to Instagram by another user. The photo of Buchwald was posted to the account "blackoutlamers" Wednesday with the caption, "as a black woman, I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be; angry."

The post led to a sit-in overnight at a UNH residence hall.

READ: UNH activist: Dozens of students participate in sit-in after 'racist blackface' Instagram post

The Instagram post came after UNH sophomore Danique Montique posted to Facebook pictures and video of other students celebrating Cinco de Mayo in clothing that she felt was disrespectful to the Mexican culture. The caption on the Instagram post quotes a line in her Facebook post.

The post has been shared more than 2,300 times and created heavy debate among commenters.

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

Buchwald told NH1 News that he was unaware the photo was ever taken and that he was not depicting blackface in anyway.

"I want nothing to do with the photo that is associated with blackface, and I definitely don't want my face associated with that caption," Buchwald said. "None of this was my doing."

Buchwald and his friend have been using a clay facial mask for the past three weeks. The mask is meant to open up your pores. You mix it with water, apply it on your face, and within 15 minutes it hardens and turns to a dark gray color, he said.

"Nowhere was I trying to be racist," Buchwald said. "Obviously, this shows racism is alive and well, I guess."

A woman who said she is an administrator for the "blackoutlamers" account verified that Buchwald had been unaware of the photo and that it was taken months ago. She said she deleted the account after the photo started spreading on social media.

Buchwald said he learned the photo was posted on social media with the racial caption around 8 p.m. last night. By the time he was able to request the that post be taken down, it had already spread on social media. He said he has "no clue who operated the account or who posted the photo."

UNH held an event to address the racial tensions building on the campus over the last few days. The event will talked about "civility, respect and safety."

"We condemn the disrespectful language and behavior exhibited on campus around the Cinco de Mayo holiday," wrote UNH President Mark Huddleston and Provost Nancy Targett in a joint statement. "Here at UNH and on campuses across the country, there has been a disturbing increase in incidents involving uncivil, even hateful, behavior. We condemn all such acts – they have no place at UNH."

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