First ‘Miss Black France’ Pageant Not So Welcome in Paris

34 Comments
April 27, 2012 ‐ By

Source: French24.com

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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  • Unico

    France has always been about forced assimilation, under the guise of unity and openness. They fight for a French women to wear a hijab by their own choice continues.

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  • Ajsmom1961

    Clearly France does not want to recognize Black women.They used a black woman as an exhibit in the 1800’s and exposed her genitalia . as if she were an animal.

  • Beautyqueen718

    Correction: The National Front is a political party and they are extremely xenophobic , anti immigrants and borderline racist. In the recent first round of the presidential election Marine Le Pen (the national front candidate) came in 3rd place! absolutely disgusting. But the rise of the “black question” in France is growing despite the country’s rules against racial/ethnic categories. I definitely see why people are against the pageant because unlike America, France does not “recognize” difference. The country expects everyone to identify as French rather than Algerian, West African etc. Therefore, of course there are going to be naysayers against the pageant but it is based on French identity. 

  • Jordan Hendrickson

    When I visited Paris people were very rude to me, before they heard my American accent.  They have real issues with people of color, according to a very fine Morrocan man I met while there. This was also the city where the lady didn’t want to let Oprah Winfrey into the Hermes store.  

    • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA

      wow, I didn’t know that about Oprah, that’s crazy but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me.

      • Arabelle Marion Cassini

        I don’t like France cause they racist. France it a racist country. I was born in France and can’t be a French Citizen cause my parent are American (what kind of stupid s**t is this) so I’m officially American by my parents. When I was 16 I apply to Miss France Pageant I didn’t get accepted cause I was under age. So how come a white girl is competing in the pageant and she is under age to. If I was white I will be able to compete in the pageant since i’m not white I can’t compete in the pageant. So they should called the pageant Miss White France. In the reality I never saw a dark skin person competing in Miss France only white and light skin people. In Miss America & Miss USA I always see dark skin people win and go to Miss Universe. So my goal it to win Miss USA & Miss America since I have a better chance to win than Miss White France. I think everybody should be aloud to compete in Miss France period. (Crystle Stewart Miss USA 2008 she’s black, Rima Fakih Miss USA 2010 she’s Arabic. Barack Obama 44th president in the United States is black. I think French people need to change and need be open cause we are not the 60’s we are in 2012.

        • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA

          Damn, they refused to give you the french citizenship because your parents are american.SMH. This country is so racist and hypocrite at the same time.France pretends to be color-blind.

    • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA

      wow, I didn’t know that about Oprah, that’s crazy but at the same time it doesn’t surprise me.

  • Smacks_hoes

    Why would you want a “black only” beauty pageant? If there was a “white only” beauty pageant people would completely flip out and start protesting and whatnot…Jesus christ can we please give it a break already

  • http://www.facebook.com/shiranig1 Shirani Galindo

    I feel that the pageant is necessary.  Not to say that non-black french women aren’t beautiful, but if this pageant was not coordinated, would black french women have the exposure they deserve? I highly doubt they would.  It’s all too sad and typical of non-black people, women in particular, to nay-say events exclusively for black women.  Is it perhaps because many non-black women don’t want to share the limelight with black women; nor do many expect to have to compete with them for male attention?  Hhhhhmmmm.

  • Papillon

    What is the source of the quotes?

    Also, the source for the photo says “French24.com” but that forwards you to an anti-Obama site, wtf?

  • http://www.facebook.com/conealb C O’Neal Black

    When you’re in the minority in a society you’re often made to feel invisible.Thus the need arises to say hey i’m important in this society too!    

  • Celeste

    “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!” <– This is code for the only contest that matters is the one the represents those in a more dominant position, so how dare they have their own.

  • PositiveReflection

    I am from France and black woman. I think that what a lot of people here don’t understand is that in France people do not talk in terms of races. France has had a black Miss France in the official Miss France election, which includes people of every color, and several 100% black runner up. 
    I agree that such a beauty contest would be detrimental to the integration that France prones, and the desire for assimilation as one people regardless of the color of our skin. I am not saying that we should not celebrate our different heritages and background but I am saying that when you include the nation’s name in the title of the election then it should be representative of the whole nation not just group. France is not all black, nor all white, it is mixture of people.
    This is opening the door to people asking for a “White  only Miss France beauty contest”. You cannot ask for integration and representation when you yourself segrate against others.
    This has nothing with not allowing people to celebrate their differences, every year there are beauty contest are held in Paris, Nice and Marseille  and other major cities that celebrate the african origins of French women. We have Miss Senegal for women of Senegalese descent, Miss Ivory Coast, Miss Benin and others…In France we don’t use the term race unless it is to talk about the Human Race, before coming to America I had never been asked to write what race I was on an application, I was French period, not French-African, but that did not mean that I could not wear traditional african closes in the streets if I wanted to or that I had to lose my heritage. It means that I belonged to this nation fully regardless of the color my skin.

    • zeti

      thanks for posting, i understand now

      ;>)

    • Dp10d

      I wish America could think in this mind frame. I agree with what the article and yourself is saying.However, from the eyes of an American,we were raised and taught to see race. Because of this, most American will see this as a conflicting issue.

    • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA

      I am from france too, and you must have lost your mind , if you think that we don’t see colors or races.

    • Smacks_hoes

      I agree

    • Sandra

       We must not come from the same France because I totally disagree with you! Yes you don’t have to write race on any application in France! But it doesn’t mean people (and by people I mean white French) don’t see you different because of the color of your skin. During all those years I lived in France I’ve witness discrimination and racism towards people just based on their skin color and not one day I’ve felt like France was a country that welcomed my African heritage and I think the 20% Marine Lepen just got on election day confirms my saying. With that said I agree with the fact that a Miss Black France is totally ridiculous and unnecessary as the offcial Miss France pageant never discriminated against black beauty as the most beautiful and successful Miss France were black. Then again I get that with this Miss Black pageant they probably want to portray a more positive image of the young French black female and show the rest of the country (even though I think only a few people in Paris will be interested by this) that they are not all those uneducated women with bad manners and bad weave portrayed daily in the French media.

      • http://twitter.com/sabadaga SANDRA

        thank you, I am still surprised to see that some black folks think France is color-blind.

    • theblackwoman

      I’m a black woman and i’m frensh and i totally disagree with “positivereflection”. How many black miss france do you know? Just one. The others are light (not dark) skin, staight hair (not kinky)…. on top of that they come from DOM-TOM (martinique, guadeloupe) but no one comes from metropolitan France where the majority is white.
      “white only miss beauty” ever exists. Its name is “miss France”! lol! I don’t want integration. Integration is a lie! They want us to forget our african culture (my parents come from Congo) and they refuse us to have the same right. Miss Frnace black is necessary because they refuse us to exist in television, in adds etc… They tend to blind us with integration but now we see!

  • http://twitter.com/DTFunkyChocolat Dannie

    After studying french from a french woman for the past couple of years, what I’ve found about france is that it’s okay to be different, to have different beliefs and cultures, etc. but it’s not okay to show it. the French want complete assimilation and I guess a black beauty pageant goes against that ideal. 

  • A.J.

    The detractors of the pageant are missing the entire point.  The “Miss Black France” project is a way for the Black women over there to celebrate their beauty, and for once, to be validated on their own standard.  There wouldn’t be a need for such pageants (theoretically) if all of the women were recognized and made to feel a part of the culture; obviously that hasn’t happened.  What gets me is that it’s seemingly okay to exclude these women on a daily basis, and it’s fine when women of color are not represented.  But the second that they form their own pageant, it’s seen as discriminatory. 

  • zeti

    i see what they are saying, i really do , but here is the problem i have with their stance.

    they want us (black women ) to feel included when they do not include us. they want us to take what little representation in the media they give us, be grateful with it and shut the hell up. this is not enough for us , it’s  not enough for any group of women . they (esp white men in America) show us that they will not recognise black features as beautiful (dark skin, wide nose, full lips,afro hair, etc) so we make our own pageants to celebrate ourselves and what do they say?

    no you cannot.

    smdh

    but then again , having the beauty argument with men is very futile.they don’t think beyond their loins.

    • http://twitter.com/HarlemsFinest7 Mister Roberts

      Not true. I am a male and I agree with everything you are saying.

      • zeti

        no offense but you’re a black man so this you would understand , but were i to start talking about lightskin-darkskin, good hair-bad hair,eurocentric-afrocentric facial features you would roll your eyes and do the same thing as these men…js

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002932932719 Wilforde J Camille

          not true. I, as a dark skin black man who grew up in NYC, but spent some time living in Paris, totally understand and agree with your first post. Furthermore, I love my dark skin black women, and when i do settle down, it will be with one of them. I currently live in Europe, about 5 hours away from Paris.

          • Msmykimoto2u

            Wish there were more men my way that think like you. They must be hiding under rocks =)

  • http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Peaches%20The%20Writer PeachesTheWriter

    I don’t know about France, but in America we highlight and celebrate different groups all the time. It is a way of saying we are different, but we are all great. I try to write about positive characters and scenarios. However, my latest book Layover on Amazon Kindle deals with a lot of the issues we face as Black women.

    • Papillon

      We celebrate different groups, unless they are Black. Ever notice when a white person says “why is there a BET? We don’t have a WET,” they never have the same problem with Univision or Telemundo. It’s okay to call yourself Italian-American or Chinese-American or whatever, but you can’t say you’re African-American. It’s not our fault that we don’t know which country our people were stolen from, so we can only say African-American. Americans say we have too many Mexicans immigrants, yet everywhere I go I see signs in Spanish and English. But if you are Black and speak a little slang, you’re uneducated or ignorant.  This country is full of double standards when it comes to diversity.

      • Brian K

         I do agree with you to some extent.  However the problem is partly because the black community does not know or love itself enough in this country to even try and force change.  Slang is ignorant.  There are African languages that need protecting: yoruba, hausa, twi, fulani etc, why don’t we push these rather than ebonics which is not good enough.  We have black neigbourhoods but with the exception of Harlem, we don’t respect them in the same way chinese, italians and others do.  So whilst everyone rushes to chinatown to get some good food, we all want to stay away from the black areas including middle class black people.  400 years of slavery, jim-crow, racism has destroyed our people and there are double standards.  But we need to have double standards but be smart too.  TV One but only show black programmes.  Clubs that are open to all but only admit blacks.  Model contests called Miss America but with majority black contests… etc etc…

      • Brian K

         I do agree with you to some extent.  However the problem is partly because the black community does not know or love itself enough in this country to even try and force change.  Slang is ignorant.  There are African languages that need protecting: yoruba, hausa, twi, fulani etc, why don’t we push these rather than ebonics which is not good enough.  We have black neigbourhoods but with the exception of Harlem, we don’t respect them in the same way chinese, italians and others do.  So whilst everyone rushes to chinatown to get some good food, we all want to stay away from the black areas including middle class black people.  400 years of slavery, jim-crow, racism has destroyed our people and there are double standards.  But we need to have double standards but be smart too.  TV One but only show black programmes.  Clubs that are open to all but only admit blacks.  Model contests called Miss America but with majority black contests… etc etc…