Miss Jamaica World Stirs Racial Debate

On Saturday, July 12, 2014 Laurie-Ann Chin was crowned the 2014 Miss Jamaica World, and almost immediately there were some Jamaicans who voiced their dissatisfaction with the winner of the pageant. Although I did not view the pageant, I gathered from the vitriol posted online that the dissatisfaction stemmed not from how Laurie-Ann Chin conducted herself in the pageant, but rather her perceived ethnicity. A few seem dissatisfied that a contestant with a darker complexion was not chosen. 
Some argued that there was an underlying prejudice within Jamaica towards darker skinned individuals. While others indicated that on many occasions a person of 100% black decent is the least likely to win the aforementioned competition.

While I do not disagree that some amount of racial prejudice exist in Jamaica, it is difficult for me to not see the irony of those expressing dissatisfaction at the winner solely based on her complexion and ethnicity. Laurie-Ann is a true representation of our motto, Out of Many, One People. For us to not embrace her as one of our own, is denying the credence of the motto we seem to hold in high regard. It is indeed ironic that many Jamaicans, if not all, seemed to have supported Tessanne Chin throughout her journey on NBC’s musical competition, The Voice. No one exclaimed (at least to my knowledge) that Tessanne Chin was less deserving of exposure because of her complexion or ethnic heritage. Why then are some Jamaicans so critical when a fellow Jamaican excels in a competition such as Miss Jamaica World? Is it possible that in some way those ridiculing Laurie-Ann Chin may feel inferior and seek to counter that sense of inferiority with an alleged notion of discrimination? Could it be that Jamaicans of color sense that they are mistreated by a system that allegedly marginalizes the most afro-centric of our society? If so, we must be fair in our assessment. As Jamaicans we must be careful to not counter discrimination by perpetuating discrimination against others. For some to allege that they feel Laurie-Ann Chin does not represent Jamaica, is to deny Laurie-Ann her rightful designation as a member of our diverse populace.

Perhaps we need to focus on self-hate within the black community. Why do a number of people within our diverse society choose to bleach the color of their skin? Why do we refer to people as having “good hair,” and “bad hair.” Why is it that we accept as common practice to call every person of Asian descent “Mr. and Mrs. Chin?” Why do we call those of indian descent “Mr. and Mrs. Singh?” Why do we use terms such as “Blaka,” to refer to an individual, almost derogatorily? When we stereotypically label a person we negate their individuality. We instead cast them into a group and label them as others; doing so is dangerous practice. Hate only begets more hate. We need to examine the fabric of our culture that allows us to continuously tear down each other, instead of uplifting our fellow country men and women.

  

I agree that we need to have a larger debate on race and race relations in Jamaica. To do so we must take an honest look at our colonial past and attitudes of Euro and Afro centrism as implanted within our society. That being said, I cannot support the ignorant among us who instead of having a meaningful discussion on the issue, choose to berate and degrade others. It is purported by some that the commenters in online discussion boards failed to realize that Laruie-Ann Chin is indeed of a dark brown complexion, and instead have reacted to the lighter image displayed in the photograph by the Jamaican-Gleaner. Regardless, the nature of the discussion is troubling.

The pictures below were ascertained from Laurie-Ann Chin’s Facebook fanpage and the Jamaica-Gleaner website respectively:

prettiest women in Jamaica


who is Miss Jamaica ?

Below are some of the most offensive comments posted in a Jamaica-Gleaner forum on Facebook. The names of the commenters have been removed to provide anonymity –

“Chinese again? I’m going to rename Jamaica Little China. American Idol (sic) winner Tess, Goat Island and now Ms. Jamaica?”

“Who these people from China?”

“For some reason they do not remind me of Jamaica, they remind me of Asia. #justwaying”

“Where is the black young woman? …”

  

“What happen to Jamiaca black girl, they not good enough why the mixed breed?”

We are all Jamaicans, and discussions about race and race relations should take place in a manner that is not destructive to others. We indeed live in a world that is plagued by hate and injustice, but in seeking a resolve, we must commit ourselves to higher values and equitable treatment of others. We must at the same time embrace the diversity which defines our beautiful island and not perpetuate hate towards our fellow men and women. I commend Laurie-Ann Chin on her win and know she will represent Jamaica well, because she truly embodies what it means to be Jamaican. Congrats Laurie!

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Dimitri Lyon

A graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Dimitri Lyon holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Speech Communication. He also holds dual Master of Science degrees in Higher Education and History. Currently Dimitri works as a Senior Admissions Recruiter with Texas A&M University-Commerce, and works independently as a motivational speaker.

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Phillip Taylor
5 years ago

I can’t believe what I just read. People please remember our coat of arms. Out of many one people

Brown Angelique Allan
5 years ago

I watched the pageant and had no issue with the winner’s ethnicity because she is black in my eyes. I believe however that the strongest answer for the questions posed came from the 1st runner up and it’s on that basis that I think some bias was shown. Was also happy and quite pleasantly surprised about the number of dark skin contestants this year. Much needs to be done to encourage all contestants to develop their oratory skills.

John Polack
5 years ago

What a beautiful girl she is so lovely I wish she was mine no offence to my present beau

Calvin Doreen
5 years ago

who know better do better

Indi Bushido Higgins
5 years ago

Funny thing is the retards didn’t even research properly before degrading her. Laurie is actually quite dark in complexion the lights distorted her true image. So a “black” girl still won the competition….geniuses.

Indi Bushido Higgins
5 years ago

Funny thing is the retards didn’t even research properly before degrading her. Laurie is actually quite dark in complexion the lights distorted her true image. So a “black” girl still won the competition….geniuses.

Zinzi O. Kamalu
5 years ago

My cousin friend entered yea she has a light complexion and long natural not relax hair. She was asked by judge to do something with her hair whether to relax or flat iron it so it would fit the the stereotype.

Pam Hart
5 years ago

oh please….di ongle time we memba di motto is wen something like dis happen..check out the pictures in the newspapers…if the event is a launch, something considered ‘upscale’ the hue of the attendees is from light , bright to damn near white….di bizniz leaders , di dem hue is di said ting….all the young ‘ladies’ chosen to be some sort of decoration’vixens’ fi many events, r again light , bright n near white….if this was not a prevalent attitude in Ja re light being more ‘upscale’ how would u explain the bleaching fad…n don’t kid urself dat ongle dark hue… Read more »

Stephanie Vaughn
5 years ago

Must be insecurity. I really dont see what the fuss is all about, the best girl Won. She was carefully selected by a diverse and reputable set of judges (monitored by an ext auditor), who sat and interviewed each contestant one on one, at an earlier prejudging session in daylight, without the glare, or pressure of time. The contest is opened to all Jamaicans, & they choose the best from those who chose to enter. They get it right most times. Who cares what colour or ethnicity or mixture? Beauty is felt first, even before its seen, they look for… Read more »

Horace Öberfallschirmjäger Cunningham

She looks more of mixed arab heritage than chinese(like Lisa Hanna is mixed lebanese).

Just because you have the last name ‘Chin’ or ‘Lee’ it does not mean you are of chinese descent.

My younger half brother’s last name is “Lee’ and he is of indian descent.

Andrea Surajbally
5 years ago

Jamaica is filled with racist, and hypocrites in many forms! Many Jamaican men are the ones to be blamed for this color segregation! Why…….because they are the ones who believes that anything whey brown or have light skin means beautiful! Many times me hear dem same black men in Jamaica talking about dem loving the light skin girls with pretty hair! Unno is a set a damn hypocrites! Unno Jamaican men! Unno well and know say these types of pageants love pick a browning or some girl who is from some affluent family in Jamaica to be the winner! And… Read more »

Sharoye Willie
5 years ago

Is it that straight black women don’t embody what it means to be a Jamaican Mr. Lyon?

Anonymous
5 years ago

Did she win even though there were “African” girls more deserving of the title? I have seen and appreciated the beauty of women of many ethnic backgrounds and – unless she is not photogenic – the physical beauty of the present Miss Jamaica is nothing to write home about. Maybe she possesses other qualities that cannot be captured by a camera so I cannot be too opinionated. Good luck to her because I’m sure that there will be many more physically appealing women than her – of darker and of lighter skin in the Miss World competition. Jamaica’s just don’t… Read more »

Latoya Palmer
5 years ago

so what if she isd mixed, this is so irrilivant! out of many one people but I guess that dont apply to the Indians, the Asians and the Whites in Jamaica so sad

Lois Mcleod
5 years ago

Very good read!

June Harris
5 years ago

Stop the nonsense please!!! Now! She’s beautiful and 100% Jamaican.

Michael Auld
5 years ago

From my personal experiences, racism is unfortunately alive and well in Jamaica. Although there are no moral excuses for it, there is an unattended history behind Jamaica’s malady. In most instances, the majority often discriminates against minorities. Having grown up in racist America, my young wife, a Native American, was happy to go to Jamaica in 1966 after our marriage. She wanted to be in a country run by people of color for the first time. However, after more than one visit to my homeland, she refused to ever set foot in Jamaica again because of its racism, especially towards… Read more »

Apollo Lorenz
5 years ago

Stop this bs about our motto etc. It is a fact that we prefer light skinned people in this country and have slavishly adopted this browning culture; pretty means light skin regardless.

Apollo Lorenz
5 years ago

Stop this bs about our motto etc. It is a fact that we prefer light skinned people in this country and have slavishly adopted this browning culture; pretty means light skin regardless.

Apollo Lorenz
5 years ago

Furthermore í will never forget a similar incident. Do we recall Christine straw and the year she won miss Jamaica world? Was there a similar reaction? Who was first summer up and can you recall how beautiful she was?

Prophetess Kerriann Campbell

After every Miss Jamaica World Competition this always happen. It is a stigma with this pageant and persons should not follow it up. I wish her all the best for the Miss World Competition. Tessane Chin won the VOICE but yet her album have the worst debut from the Voice. Goes to show that it was the CROWD that voted for Tessane and not the people who presented the Contract for her because she was not given that MARKETABLE stance as the others. May this Miss Jamaica World receive her rightful advertisement and go on to win. Lisa Hanna who… Read more »

Pam Hart
5 years ago

the REAL issue here as exemplified by the choices made in these contests, is the continued glorification of aquiline features, ‘soft’ textured hair etc….this choice has just brought the discussion BRIEFLY back into play….as it seems to do each year….so u can see how much we believe in our motto n in diversity wen the same said choices r made in every spectrum of choosing in Jamaica….sad…

Rob Chung II
5 years ago

*Cough* Tesanne Chin *Cough*
Ya, it’s only convenient when they win that we will accept people.

Andria Deon Hardy
5 years ago

I think people need to recognize that no matter how dark skinned a Jamaican is he or she is likely of MIXED HERITAGE! Based on research we are one of the most mixed countries in the world! As the article says, we need to look at how each of us as individuals have been programmed to treat people based on our perceived level of mixes with other cultures. The big hypocrisy is some of these same people are the ones who treat the slightly lighter sibling or child better or offer promotions on this basis.

Tka Clarke
5 years ago

this seems to be a yearly debate, the dissatisfaction with our ethnicity always come to the fore whenever this pageant is held…sigh

Lilieth Clacken
5 years ago

Jealousy is a helluva thing lets celebrate our diversity and beauties good luck Jamaican girl go represent us

Oshane Paradox Warren
5 years ago

lol i swear… some of those comments are just stupid plus some of them cant even spell. She is a jamaican even if her family is from china. Ignorant ppl, this is why our country wont get better #OUT_OF_MANY_ONE_PEOPLE

Lilieth Clacken
5 years ago

Even if she’s white as long as shes jamaican that’s what matters and that she will make us proud

Leslie A Moore
5 years ago

I HOPE SHE HAVE A RASTA MAN WHEN SHE WIN MISS WORLD ….THEN WHAT WILL THEY SAY THEN ……

Colin Sterling
5 years ago

This is a beauty contest. I don’t care what colour the person is as long as she is Jamaican. The objective should be to select the most beautiful woman out of those that entered. The one that would give us the best chance of winning the Miss World contest. Even though I think Laurie is extremely beautiful, the person that would give us the best place in the Miss world contest is Kimberly Web. She should have been crowned Miss Jamaica. First runner up should have been Shellian Young and second runner up Laurie Chin. The judges got in wrong.… Read more »

Karlene Cover
5 years ago

I now reside in the United States, I have a chinese last name and I am not labled Asian, I am under Black….so I am not understasnding why the winner because her last name is Chin, you can see that the woman is mixed, she is not 100% chinese…so how could she remind you of Asia?

Karlene Cover
5 years ago

I now reside in the United States, I have a chinese last name and I am not labled Asian, I am under Black….so I am not understasnding why the winner because her last name is Chin, you can see that the woman is mixed, she is not 100% chinese…so how could she remind you of Asia?

Calibe Thompson
5 years ago

Sadly, Dimitri, Tessanne got it too. Look up an article called Tessannemania is a national embarrassment. There is a racial bias in the country, but I don’t know that this girl should have stayed home and not done her best because of other people’s issues.

Natasha Thompson-Benjamin

stop using the motto “out of many” to justify foolishness. The percentage of “Miss Jamaicas” that are of a particular race should be proportionate to the percentage of people of that race in the country.

Michael Auld
5 years ago

Beauty pageants are discriminatory by nature. “Beauty” means different things to different people. So when Jamaica chooses someone to represents its beauty, promoters of the island must think about a broader world-wide aesthetic of “beauty” that will be judged by folks outside of their little world. The women who represent their countries at Miss World or Miss Universe must compete against brains and the beauty of a troupe of women, some with aquiline features and some with Asiatic or African features, or a combination of all of the above. This is one reason why there was a Miss Black America… Read more »

Kayan Milwood
5 years ago

I was in disagreement with the outcome not because of race but because i saw other young woman there who answered their questions much better than some of the persons that made top 5. In my eyes there was some bias there. I can only speak for the night of the pageant because that is the only aspect of of the competition that i was exposed to. From what I understand as well, these young women are judged on how well they answer their question; isn’t that the reason why those segments were placed in the competition in the first… Read more »

Aven Peralto Nichols
5 years ago

What bunch of hignorant people !!

Aven Peralto Nichols
5 years ago

What bunch of hignorant people !!

Aven Peralto Nichols
5 years ago

This ignorance is too profound !!

Bud Wilson
5 years ago

is this argument still going on …. lol. It was the same when I use to follow this contest back in the 80’s. Jamaica don’t move forward one step.

Patrick Lennon
5 years ago

No matter which of the contestants had won …there still would be some negative reaction.The truth of the matter is as I’ve come to realize, us Jamaicans can’t seem to be happy for any other person if it means we don’t get things done how we want it and we see that in all spheres… in our leaders straight down the ladder.Sad….

Octavia Morgan
5 years ago

What crap. It should be out of many Africans. Crap! I didn’t even read the entire thing after I realized what the article is about. Now who is prejudice?

Emorej Gnahc
5 years ago

she’s beautiful..

Rowe Curtain
5 years ago

The overall problem was not with her ethnicity…it was felt that the most intelligent/best performing girl was not chosen.

Thasya Chin-Fletcher
5 years ago

I can only say that those who made such negative comments don’t know Jamaica’s motto “Put of Many one People’ and if they know it, they do not understand. Also as Dimitri noted, many persons are bleaching to get ‘brown’ and to also have an Asian look. So what or who is the problem here!! …. We need to be more open and stop being so negative because your sister, cousin, niece, best friend, girlfriend etc did not win.

Tawny Ed
5 years ago

yes out of many one people but its mostly a certain skin type and hair type is highlighted and the impression is given that they are more accepted and appreciated. So then a type of people will then be considered “unacceptable” in representing the country on an international level, although the masses is black we highlight the minority which is also the elite in the society. So out of many only a few is considered beautiful.

Alli Alexis
5 years ago

This whole racial thing is ridiculous. If a black girl of 100 percent African descent is indeed the smartest and most beautiful then of course she should win, but to ask the organizers of the pageant to choose a black just just because she is black is ridiculous and basically affirmative action. It is not the fault of the organizers that not many dark skinned girls enter the competition or is it their fault that those who do may not be poised and well spoken enough to advance to the finals. Maybe if more black girls entered there would be… Read more »

BabyThea Reader
5 years ago

Dark skinned people need to turn the search light inwards. Why aren’t our dark skinned girls exuding as much confidence and topping the the others? Are our dark skinned models being cheated out or are they falling short on tht confidence tht would give them the edge? A few yrs ago there was one, Chantal I believe, who had the nation at her feet. She was excellent, but then she faltered on a Usain Bolt ques tht simply shocked us. The contestant who went on to win was less deserving, (brown skinned, Indian), but the dark skinned girl was never… Read more »

BabyThea Reader
5 years ago

Dark skinned people need to turn the search light inwards. Why aren’t our dark skinned girls exuding as much confidence and topping the the others? Are our dark skinned models being cheated out or are they falling short on tht confidence tht would give them the edge? A few yrs ago there was one, Chantal I believe, who had the nation at her feet. She was excellent, but then she faltered on a Usain Bolt ques tht simply shocked us. The contestant who went on to win was less deserving, (brown skinned, Indian), but the dark skinned girl was never… Read more »

Nordi Multivitamin Johnson

So why does someone “African” or straight black have to win? She was judged the best contestant overall and its really a shame referring to persons as mixed breed as though they’re animals.