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A 'Black' Miss Puerto Rico? HA!

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  • A 'Black' Miss Puerto Rico? HA!

    Pageant Opens Debate On Caribbean Racial Politics

    By Iván Román

    June 9, 2002
    Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel.
    All rights reserved.

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico
    -- Once Miss Russia was crowned with $250,000 worth of diamonds and pearls on the San Juan stage, local reporter Adria Cruz saw it all too clearly.

    The 21 black contestants in the Miss Universe pageant, and the three others who were of mixed black ancestry , couldn't make it to the semifinals because, of all things, they don't blush.

    You see, her theory is that judges already knew the finalists were going to have to answer the eminently insightful question, "What makes you blush?" Because black women technically can't blush -- become red in the face, according to Webster's dictionary -- or most people can't tell when they do, they'd be stumped. And that would throw a wrench into the pageant's high drama.

    My irate mother called minutes after Russia's Oxana Fedorova's victory stroll along the stage. "What kind of stupid question is that? Who thought up such a thing?" she managed to say amidst her outrage. "And did you see there were no black women there?"

    What about the sparkling Miss Dominican Republic whom people here had talked about for weeks?


    In this "year of the black women," as pageant groupies called it, even Miss Sweden was black, with lighter complexion and reddish hair, something seen more often in New Orleans than in Stockholm. The swanlike Miss Colombia and Miss Nigeria looked on, simply clapping in place as they called the semifinalists who, despite some ethnic mixes, looked pretty much the same as they lined up side by side.

    "They were looking for another type of beauty, and I respect their decision," said graphic artist Ruth Ocumarez, Miss Dominican Republic. "This time, the black race was completely out of it."

    The hundreds of Dominicans who gathered before a big screen at a public square in San Juan's Barrio Obrero neighborhood to cheer her on to the beat of merengue music were not as generous to the judges. Neither were most people creating the buzz the next day.

    "There were 21 black women in the contest, and they couldn't pick one for the semifinals, even for the hell of it?" said Leticia Rivera Casablanca, 40, a postal clerk.

    "I'm very upset. We're in the new millennium, and we're still dealing with this crap."

    But all this outrage left Fernando Sosa, a dependable barometer of racial indignation, scratching his head.

    "The last thing Puerto Ricans would have wanted was for a black woman to win," said Sosa, who owns a boutique in Old San Juan. "Why, a black woman has never been selected Miss Puerto Rico."

    Maybe without realizing it, the judges helped to pull a scab off the wounds of Caribbean racial politics. Or helped bring up challenging questions about the need for racial representation in what for some is a glitzy, superficial show and business franchise that exploits women and perpetuates subjective and unfair concepts of beauty.

    The indignation may have quickly gotten lost in gossipy news about whether Fedorova, a police officer and martial-arts expert, had a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And sadly, this year's disillusionment probably won't cure the island and many other Latin Americans' obsession with beauty pageants.

    After all, they are, according to some sidewalk-vendor analysts, one of the few ways they can truly compete with the superpowers of the world.

    "Donald Trump is going all the way to the bank holding the pageant here for two years in a row," Sosa said. "Only in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries do we care so much about this. That's a sign of low self-esteem. Excuse me if that seems harsh, but that's the way I feel."

    Local politicians have always pointed to Puerto Rico's participation in Miss Universe and the Olympics as the only international forums in which the island has its own identity apart from the United States, something that would be lost if it ever gained statehood.

    Ironically, it was pro-statehood Mayor Jorge Santini who hosted the 76 beauties and scooped up every opportunity to take pictures and dance with them. When asked about sacrificing a spot in the pageant in the name of political status, he unsuccessfully tried to say that wouldn't happen.

    I'm surprised that when he looked the press in the eye and said that, he didn't blush. And in case you're wondering, he can.

  • #2

    Ecuajey, thanks for the article.

    I remember a time not too long ago when there were no black women to cheer for in such pageants. I too was hoping for Miss Dominican Republic. (Who did come up with that ridiculous question about blushing, anyway?!!!)

    While I always root for the black women in these pageants, it never really surprises me if they do not win. I usually watch the first half hour when all the women are introduced, and then I switch to something else, because I know that it is highly unlikely that one of my sisters is going to win the crown. I find that this world is still ruled by white standards of beauty and success that often do not reflect nor inform the lives of my people. So I do not use them as my personal standards.

    It is naive to believe that a new millenium will change the inherent racist assumptions of those in positions of power, who arbitrarily "crown" those whom they feel most represent what is the acceptable Euro standard. Sorry to upset anyone who may think differently, but it is just REALITY.

    As to the issue of a black Miss Puerto Rico, I wonder why at least a mixed PR woman can't win. Actually, that's a rhetorical question, because I think that, like a lot of colonized people who live in the shadow of America and Europe, PR's and other Caribbean people have bought into Euro standards, as well. Hence, a Dayanara Torres (as beautiful as she is), and not a black beauty.

    What do others think?


    • #3

      Your welcome for the article.

      Also, I agree and understand 100% with what you wrote!


      • #4
        I wonder what racist conciencia and El Jibaro have to say about this.

        That is why by the grace of Allah I am coming with these teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan and it will set Latin America on fire. You will see a revolution like never before. All Praises is Due to Allah for the coming of the teachings of Master Fard Muhammad to the lost-found Nation of Islam in Latin America. Racism exists everywhere and those Puerto Ricans who want to play,'Puerto Rico doesn't have racism' are nothing but liars and hypocrites. All those depictions of a white Jesus should show you how racism is being promulgated in Latin America.


        • #5
          I find it hypocritical that a supporter of FARRAKHAN would dare complain about racism. "minister" Farrakhan is openly and proudly racist. He is an ani-semite and anti-white. "Methinks thou protesteth too loudly" applies perfectly here. Oftentimes those who cry loudest about the injustice of racism are the biggest racists themselves.


          • #6
            No Black man can be a racist.

            Racism is the practice of white supremacy. In order for a Black man like Min. Farrakhan for example to be a racist he needs to enslave over 200 million white people, take them to a land away from their origin, lets say Africa, and rob them of their names, language, culture, religion and history. Change their names to African names and beat them into submission and then work them for 310 years without paying them. Then treat them like 2nd class citizens for another 100 years, then use the police and drugs to suppress and oppress their communities. You need to do you history before you start vomiting from the mouth, Oppressor. You are Oppressed, you are oppressed to the ignorance that the white media has given to you about the greatest man of our time, the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan. How can Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam be anti-white when our founder, Master Fard Muhammad looks like a white man? We are anti-racism, anti-oppression, and anti-bigotry. That is the truth my friend. Farrakhan speaks the truth of racism where everyone else is shaking in their boots to address the real issues of the day. So you need to try better than label me a racist. We are not the ones killing Black men in the street, nor are we preventing Black people from obtaining jobs that they qualify for, nor are we turning down the loans to Black people at banks, and I can go on and on.

            your brother and servant,

            Hector Falu-Muhammad


            • #7

              My mother and sister were also upset at this paegent. What makes you blush? What kind of question is that? We need to take a better look at things people. We say we are all one people. But when s____ like this happens dark latins can't help but step back and take a realistic look. We claim Puerto Rico, and say BORICUA FIRST. So if that is the case why is how dark someone is an issue in a Miss Puerto Rico paegant. I have never seen a dark skinned Miss Puerto Rico, believe me I have been paying attention to Miss Puerto Rico for the past 12 years and have never seen a dark skinned one. But it is Boricua first. One thing I love about the miss Universe paegent is that race isn't a big deal. Or hasn't been until this year's paegent. Before this year Black and Latino women regardless of how dark or light were dominating. But I see race is even becoming a issue in that one too. It's a shame.
              April 19, 1979-June 16, 2006
              RESTO EN PAZ
              Ido Pero NUNCA Olvidado!


              • #8
                Esteemed MinFaluMuhammad,

                After falling off my chair and laughing my ass off at what is possibly the most ridiculous and asinine sentence I have ever heard ("no black man can be a racist" ribs still hurt from that one!), I decided I just had to respond, no matter how undeserving of a response such a foolish statement is.

                To start, I was not insinuating that YOU were a racist. I was pointing out the fact that Farrakhan IS most definitely a racist. But, after your reply, I think it's safe to assume you may be one two, you just don't know it. So let me explain, in the simplest terms possible, what a racist is, and what qualifies one as a racist.

                First, you need to belong to a race. Any race will do. Then, you merely have to have hatred for another race, or think yourself superior to another race, and treat members of that race with disrespect and/or disdain, and are a racist.You don't have to "enslave" a people to become a racist. If you hate someone because of their race, you are a racist. If you think you're better than someone because of their race, you are a racist. If you blame someone for all the evil in the world because of their race, you are a racist.

                Now, let's talk about having to enslave a people, sell them, trade them, force them into labor, mistreat, abuse and/or kill them in order to be a racist. As far as I know, there's one major place in the world where slavery was not only practiced hundreds of years ago, it was practiced THOUSANDS of years ago, and is still being practiced today.

                Raise your hands if you know what country that is.

                No, no, it's not the USA...No, not South America. Nope, not even Europe.

                BZZZZZZZZZZ...time's up. The answer is: AFRICA. And guess what? It's not the Evil Whiteman selling Africans into slavery today, it's OTHER Africans (and Arabs, and Muslims).
                But I'm sure you would have guessed that had I given you enough time.

                Fact: 30 percent of Muslims in America today are black, some embracing the religion in order to reject "Western Civilization, culture and religion." Many blacks also give their kids Arabic-sounding names. But most blacks don't know that Arab slavers brought more slaves to South America and to the Middle East than European slavers brought to North America. In "Conquests and Cultures," Thomas Sowell writes, "By the time the Europeans discovered the Western Hemisphere at the end of the 15th century, Muslim merchants already dominated the slave trade in West Africa, as they did in East Africa and North Africa. The Islamic jihads of the 18th and 19th centuries created new Muslim states in West Africa, which in turn promoted enslavement on a larger scale. Altogether, between 1650 and 1850, at least 5 million slaves were shipped from West Africa alone." And while slavery ended in the West, says Sowell, "In some Islamic countries in Africa and the Middle East, slavery lasted even longer. Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and Sudan continued to hold slaves on past the middle of the 20th century." (excerpt from an article by Thomas Sowell)

                So, by your reasoning, Africans are racists against themselves.

                Now, for how many hundreds (thousands) of years did the Egyptians hold the Hebrews as slaves? Egyptians are African, are they not? Should the Hebrew descendants have hatred for the decendants of the Egyptians (whose Empire was also built on the backs of slaves) ? So by your reasoning, Jews who hate Blacks are NOT racist, correct?

                Please rethink your statement, that Black men cannot be racist. You seem to be too intelligent to actually believe that.

                Racists come in all colors.

                oh and by the way, 84% of violent crimes against Black men are committed by other Black men.


                • #9
                  Que paso?

                  I love to see men flex their mental muscle, but let's try to comport ourselves in a manner commensurate with our intelligence and to realign the responses with the topic at hand. We seem to have gotten off track. Weren't we discussing the Miss Universe pageant?


                  • #10
                    "Pageant Opens Debate On Caribbean RACIAL POLITICS"

                    RACIAL POLITICS...
                    I'd say we're pretty on track. The Pageant is not the main theme, it's the so-called racism involved. So, we're discussing racism, Not the petty "who wrote the question about blushing".


                    • #11
                      Pardon me, Oppressor,

                      I was actually trying to point out that we deviated from discussing the issue of race intelligently, and instead things devolved into PERSONAL ATTACKS.

                      Since such an "oppressive" format is what you choose to adopt, and I only have enough rhetorical skill to engage people in "petty" discussion of pageants (a subject I did not begin, I might add), I will recuse myself from further commentary, in order not to insult your obvious greater degree of comprehension, eloquence, and expression and to allow you to further pontificate on this issue.



                      • #12
                        I seem to have struck a nerve. The truth does that.


                        • #13
                          And just what was your "truth," Mr. Oppressor?

                          Funny... I had actually thought that you made some excellent points earlier. It's interesting to me that you have very little to say now of any redeeming value or prescience. Intelligence truly is only as deep as the articulator and as fleeting as the moment with some people...


                          • #14
                            This discussion has steared towards an unusual turn.

                            Oppressed_oppressor, you seem to be trying to insult NegraD's intelligence. If your not, please make it clear. She's a smart woman and even though her posts might seem unclear to you, I assume she means the best and she has been making that clear.


                            • #15
                              Although I did not see the Miss Universe pageant, I have seen people who are not willing to accept the beauty of another race. Black women are very beautiful, sensual, loving and intelligent, whether they are of African-American descent, African descent, Caribbean descent or mixed blood races like Puerto Ricans. Too often America is willing to see a bi-racial person like Vanessa Williams or Mariah Carey as attractive yet fail to see the beauty in darker-skinned black women, like Lauren Hill, Angela Basset and others. Perhaps as society becomes more integrated and willing to see beyond racial similarities in order to consider someone attractive and/or beautiful, then darker-skinned black women can be seen by society as a whole as beautiful. By this, I don't mean the way plantation owners considered black women as objects of sexual gratification and whose mentality is still subconsciously lingering in society - The Wedding Band. But that black women can be accepted for their intelligence, their strong and enduring character, and with that men of all races will see both their outer and inner beauty. Once men of all races can do that, then maybe men will be willing to give the respect and honor to women as they truly deserve.

                              As an aside, the issue of racism can include "intra"-racial discrimination as well. This, of course, is the self-deprecating person who is ashamed of their race and unwilling to date people of their race, especially dark-skinned people of their race. I see this in the Hispanic Community as well as the African-American community. It is best opitimized by Spike Lee's movie "School Daze."


                              [Edited by nachos1965 on 25th June 2002 at 20:43]