Is “Miss Black France” Pageant Acceptable?
Written by Fabiene Flessel
The home page of the event scheduled on Saturday April 28, 2012, says [fr]:
Let’s Celebrate Black Beauty!
The “About” section of the Facebook page [fr] of the contest explains:
Black young women are eventually going to have their election. Black beauty, which has been very little promoted in France up to this date -at least, not in the usual ‘beauty pageants’- will be showcased there.
All young women, French nationals or foreign residents, natives of France, the French Overseas Regions or Africa are eligible if they are at least 16 years old and with no other criteria than elegance and glamour.
This introduction to the genesis of this pageant has raised many questions among French people and bloggers, among which Bondamanjak from Martinique [fr], who wonders:
Excessive communalism? Activist move? Yankee imperialism? Business?
These questions are justified by the founding motto of the French nation, according to which all citizens are equal and cannot be distinguished on account of ethnicity or religion. In this perspective, having a national contest based on the ethnicity of the pageants seems heretical to many netizens.
A post published on a Martinican blog People Bo Kay explains both points of view [fr] and where the division lies.
Supporters of the pageant advocate the need for more visibility [fr]:
cast the light on these extremely numerous Black women, who are little represented in the media.
In France, the only Black pageant winners that we have ever known were either mixed-raced or natives of the French overseas regions. There has never been any girls from Senegalese or Algerian parents. They cannot identify with the Miss France pageant yet. They think it is not made for them and become self-conscious to the extent of self-censorship.
One of the cons to this pageant was that to some, it symbolizes reverse discrimination – the most recurrent question being, “What if a fair blonde French young woman wants to participate?”
A comment published following the post at Bondamanjak says [fr]:
The color black is not an identity, nor a social class. It is ridiculous to make any difference with a white contestant. Our struggle does not belong there. Let’s build a united and self-reliant community to defend our collective memory and our true identity.
Although this beauty pageant has been very controversial and triggered much division among people over its legitimacy, one thing make people come together: why use the adjective “black” in French, instead of “noire”.
The answer is that black sounds more like a marketing success than “noire”.
The results of the pageant are published along with the picture of the winners on this post at People Bo Kay:
A 21-year-old marketing student from Senegal, Tiah Beye was crowned ‘Miss Black France 2012′ along with her two runners-up, 22-year-old, Ivorian-born Romy Niaba and 23-year-old, Aissata Soumah from Guinea.
This post was originally published by Global Voices.
Photo: official poster for "Miss Black France" contest