In America we’re used to events, competitions, and celebrations that openly recognize black beauty but in France that type of movement isn’t nearly as widespread or as accepted. As the country’s capital city of Paris prepares to host its first ever ‘Miss Black France’ pageant tomorrow, questions over the necessity and the effect this event could have on race relations are brewing.
Despite having the full approval of the French Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), the organization’s founder and president Patrick Lozès said the pageant is hardly “progressive.”
“This logic is detrimental to the values of French society,” he said. “If I think that there are not enough Black people in the most prestigious schools and companies, am I going to go create establishments exclusively reserved for Blacks?”
Historian Pascal Blanchard, a specialist in immigration at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, agrees and went so far as to call the initiative “stupid” and “dangerous.”
“I know that in the US, there are ethnic beauty contests. The fact that they’re tolerated doesn’t change my mind,” he said. “Anytime that anyone, no matter where in the world, talks to me about a contest reserved for a specific racial category, I hit the roof!”
Lozès went a little off center when he talked about concerns that the pageant could make people more defensive considering the country is on the brink of receiving results from the first round of it’s presidential election, saying:
“I’m afraid that all of that will make French people even more defensive at a time when the National Front is more popular than ever. It’s a contest that stipulates that white women are not welcome, which is very disturbing. This initiative could be perceived as a hostile event that will further erode national unity.
“Everything possible must be done so that these people recognize themselves as French, and not as Black people living in France,” he added. “We can’t start having ethnically exclusive contests if our ultimate goal is to have all-inclusive national contests. It’s a serious strategic error.”
I hardly think the contest expresses the sentiment that white women are not welcome but the point of presenting a united French nationalist front in the midst of recognizing black women is an interesting one. That’s all promoter Frederic Royer wants in the first place:
“The purpose of this beauty contest is to shine a light on the many Black women in this country who are rarely given any media attention,” he said. “The Miss France competition is not nearly representative enough of modern France.”
That’s a point non-black women would simply never understand.
Do you think naysayers have a point about the downsides of the pageant?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic
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