Is “Miss Black France” Pageant Acceptable?


Written by Fabiene Flessel

While French people are still in the midst of the presidential elections with its second round coming up on May 5-6th 2012, another vote buzzed last week: the “Miss Black France” [fr] contest.

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.

This last point was made by historian and specialist of cultural diversity matters, François Durpaire [fr], during an interview on French national channel, France 2.

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.


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Photo: official poster for "Miss Black France" contest


Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Nicolas.....But one of the many problem with black/white relations is blacks want to be included/admitted to everything but make no outward appeal for white or others to join whatever they deem as exclusively black. It is my opinion blacks want to keep whatever clubs or organizations blacks but raise cane when there are no blacks in so called all white organization.

There are two words for what I've written above...Guilt tripping by blacks against anyone who wants their members to be as one in identity.
Personally, I'd love to see a Native American indian win the Miss America contest.....And have a Native American indian as our president.
Just think, this is their land & they are the first people of this land!!!!!

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Jane R.
Jane R6 years ago

No, not acceptable at all!!

Kynthia B.
Cynthia B6 years ago

I'm against any beauty pageant.

Tia Mitchum
Tia Phillips6 years ago

As a woman of color myself, I have never liked the idea of black this and black that. I feel that it is reverse racism in every way. I feel as a woman of color we are seperating ourselves, instead of fighting for equality in every way and in every thing. I think it's totally inappropriate and backwards. Just like the use of the " N" word. Ridiculous to me. A sheer Embarrassment.

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.6 years ago

And it is NOT RACISM if such 'exclusive' COLORED pageants exist, because they don't exist in a vacuum, but RATHER in a dominant CONTEXT of 'open pageants' that RUN BY WHITES that are EFFECTIVELY ANTI-COLOR RACIST, even if it is unspoken in PRACTICE, because their rules claim openness and non-discrimination. COLORED FOLKS are 'accepted' with reluctance by whites running them in 'open pageants'; they just won't admit it to anyone's face openly up front (just behind our backs, in closed doors behind the scenes).

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.6 years ago

So what if the French are in denial about their own racism towards colored folks even with their national motto. What nations don't have such a motto and at the same time suffer from shortcomings unbecoming of such a motto?
Such denial is rampant even here in North America.

Nicholas L.
Nicholas L6 years ago

France doesn't have the same discrimination laws as America so all those claims about it not being fair based on our country are false. I'm willing to bet the could have a Miss White France too. I don't think it's unfair, people celebrate their ethnicity all the time, it isn't hurting anyone until people blow it way out of proportion and make a huge fuss about it.

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H6 years ago

why are the blacks wanting to have equal rights , yet they have special events not including whites or other races?????

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H6 years ago