Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful … and black.
Jakiyah McKoy had everything it took to win the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware crown. But two things kept her from keeping it: One, she was black. Two, she was undocumented.
Now a racial firestorm is swirling around the seven-year McKoy, with black activists from around the country saying pageant officials are racist from stripping the crown from McKoy two weeks ago.
There’s even a nation-wide, on-line petition at Change.org, “demanding Jakiyah McKoy keep her rightfully won crown, because her beauty represents us all.”
That is hardly the story we heard from the El Tiempo Hispano shortly after the pageant. “There was uproar when the winner was announced because, according to the public, she was not the best representative of a Latin beauty.”
Tiffany Ayala is one of the mothers who brought McKoy’s alleged ethnic deficiency to the attention of the judges. ““If you’re not Hispanic, you can’t join it,” Ayala told the Wilmington News Journal. “Just like I’m not going to put my daughter in the Little Miss Ebony Queen.”
Ayala’s daughter was the first runner-up who became Little Miss Hispanic Delaware after McKoy lost the top spot — and the $500 prize money, awarded at the end of the year.
The controversy centers around how some people confuse race and ethnicity. Hispanic is a term that represents people whose ancestors come from Spanish-speaking counties. Many Hispanics are of African descent, as is Jakiyah McKoy.
At least that is what her parents say: That her grandmother was from the Dominican Republic. But they did not have the papers to prove she was Hispanic.
Daniel Jose Older started the petition at Change.org to restore McKoy’s crown. He told the Wilmington News Journal: “There is just like a baseline of disrespect to black women. As Latinos, it’s really important that we understand what’s going on with us and that we reclaim this girl as our sister. This is our sister, and she is being unfairly excluded.”
City Councilwoman Maria Cabrera is the media’s go-to person for Hispanic issues in Wilmington. She attended the pageant, which she ran for several years.
Cabrera said she agrees with the decision to disquality McKoy, but regrets that it “divides African-Americans and Hispanics.”
As is often the case surrounding racer-based activities “Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that Hispanics are demanding documentation for participation?,” asked David Lutes at Delawareonline.com.
“I hope every adult that was associated with this race/ethnicity based pageant is proud of themselves,” said Polly Lucas at Delawareonline.com “Thanks to you, every one of these innocent American young ladies was introduced to the ugliness of race politics. Lets not even delve into the hypocrisy of the “documentation” requirement.”
Ayala was not deterred: “I am very proud of myself and yes you are welcome since two of my daughters participated in this pageant and now know that many people lie about their heritage and try to say they Spanish when they’re not. My daughters know where their (sic) from the day they was born. Viva MEXICO.”
Many of the on-line comments in and out of Delaware wondered if race-based pageants are an idea whose time has passed.
But not everyone: Valerye Jones said white people already have pageants that reinforce white ideals of beauty. “Hmph, there’s already Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss (insert name of a state), Jr. Miss “this” and Jr. Miss “that”! There’s plenty of Anglo representation…simply pick one!”