Several days ago, a video was posted by University of New Hampshire sophomore, Danique Montique, in which she approaches a male student on Cinco de Mayo and castigates him for wearing a poncho.
The male student said he was just having fun, but Montique was having none of it. She posted the video, along with other photos of white students celebrating Cinco de Mayo in ponchos and sombreros to her Facebook page. One of the images appears to be from Snapchat, with the caption: "Just got deported."
In her post, Montique used the phrase: "As a black woman, I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be; angry."
On Wednesday, an Instagram account called "blackoutlamers" posted a photo of a student wearing a black facial mask. The caption: "And I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be, angry."
As it turns out, the photo was a digital copy posted by a third party. By the time Eric Buchwald, the young man in the photo, could respond, it was too late — the image with the caption had begun to circulate.
Buchwald told NH1 that the substance on his face was a clay facial mask, adding:
"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... None of this was my doing... Nowhere was I trying to be racist... Obviously, this shows racism is alive and well, I guess."
NH1 reached out to the manager of the Instagram account, who "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."
The reaction to the Cinco de Mayo posts and the Instagram image has been a bit dramatic. According to The Tab, Montique and "50 students of color" protested "in the lounge across from the student who posted the picture on Instagram."
"We’re refusing to go to finals," Montique said. "We’re walking and demanding these students be held accountable."
In response to the hubbub, UNH President Mark Huddleston and Provost Nancy Targett issued a statement, which reads:
We condemn the disrespectful language and behavior exhibited on campus around the Cinco de Mayo holiday... 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.
Additionally, according to The Tab: "The college has agreed to push back today’s and tomorrow’s exams amid protests..."
Here's the sum of the game: Several students donned sombreros and ponchos to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and one individual — whose identity is unknown — copied a photograph of a guy wearing a clay mask, and tried to provoke racial tension.
Some may find the Mexican garb worn by students on Cinco de Mayo offensive; some may find their comments offensive. The photo with the black facial mask is another story.
Someone — whose identity has not been revealed — grabbed that picture, and put a rude caption underneath it, quoting Montique's Facebook post. The individual who posted the picture could very well be a racist scumbag. There is another option. The post could be a hoax used to foment racial tension. This wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened.
Exhibit A: The University of Louisiana student who claimed that two men, one of whom was wearing a Trump hat, ripped off her hijab. It was later revealed that she made the whole thing up.
Exhibit B: George Nathaniel Stang, the gay church organist who spray-painted a swastika, a gay slur, and the phrase "Heil Trump" on the side of his church. According to U.S. News, after Stang was busted for the crime, "[he] told police he is gay and wanted to mobilize a movement after being disappointed in and fearful of the outcome of the election in which Donald Trump was elected president."
I could go on, as there are several other prominent stories similar to the ones detailed above.
Here's the point. Refusing to take finals until the students who wore ponchos on Cinco de Mayo and the anonymous individual who posted a stolen image to Instagram are "held accountable" is pointless — it's a hollow demand. How are they to be held accountable? Oh — the university issued a statement. What a victory.
These protesters are virtue signaling; they are swinging their social justice Mjölnir in an effort to get what they want — but what they want is ambiguous. They say the offending students should be "held accountable," which is virtue-speak for bullied into submission. The university complied by issuing a statement denouncing the allegedly offensive "language and behavior" surrounding the Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
However, nothing has changed and nothing will change as a result of this protest. A statement means nothing; it doesn't make any meaningful impact on the real world. But for social justice activists, real change doesn't matter; real change is secondary. What matters is the social currency accrued by protesting — and their behavior has certainly earned them such currency among their peers.