A French celebration of black beauty isn’t being being welcomed with open arms as many of its organizers had hoped. The first ever Miss Black France pageant will take place Saturday, April 27 in Paris, long renowned for being a romantic city. No love is being shown to pageant organizers from people like Patrick Lozès, however. Lozès, the founder and former president of CRAN, the Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires or French Representative Council of Black Association, called the logic behind the pageant “detrimental.” “This logic is detrimental to the values of French society,” he said to France 24. “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?”
Local historian Pascal Blanchard, who specializes in immigration at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, chimed in and agreed with Lozès. “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,” he said. “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.” He also called the pageant “stupid” and “dangerous.”
“I know that in the U.S., there are ethnic beauty contests. The fact that they’re tolerated doesn’t change my mind,” said Blanchard. “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!”
Despite Blanchard’s and Lozès’ comments, organizers are still going forward with the pageant they hope will give visibility to a largely ignored section of French society.
In 2000, Sonia Rolland, a biracial woman, took home the Miss France title. Similarly Rachel Christie, a black woman, was crowned Miss England in 2009. She relinquished her crown soon after, however, because of a brawl between herself and Miss Manchester over a man. –danielle canada