Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 5:43 AM
Fifty years ago, when everything white was right, it should have come as no surprise that little black girls preferred white dolls – as psychologist Kenneth Clarke showed in his seminal 1954 experiment. But it came as a disheartening surprise in 2005 when a similar experiment by a racially conscious high-school student, Kiri Davis, showed that little blacks still preferred white dolls. After all, one would have expected the pervasive influence black culture has had on white culture in recent decades to change such self-loathing preferences.
This is how I began a January 5, 2010 commentary entitled Black is Beautiful! Just Not in South Africa. I went on to express my dismay over the results of a survey which found that, when South African adults were asked to name the 10 most beautiful celebrities in the world, only one black woman, Thandie Newton, made the cut at number 10 … and she’s half-white.
Now comes an even more disheartening manifestation of this self-loathing pathology. For of all of the beautiful, dark-skinned women in Haiti, officials there crowned a black one on May 16 who looks even whiter than Thandie to be the new Miss Haiti.
And to add insult to injury, this Haitian, 24-year-old Sarodj Bertin, actually lives in the mulato capital of the world, the Dominican Republic.
Of course I know that not all Haitians are dark-skinned, and that there are a few mulatos still living in Haiti. But if there were ever a time when the 95 percent of black, dark-skinned Haitians could benefit from a little boost to their self-esteem, it is now as they continue to wallow in the devastating wake of January’s earthquake.
Even worse, this national self-loathing will now be broadcast for the world to see when this “exotic” beauty competes in the Miss Universe pageant in August, which just happens to be the first time Haiti will be represented in over two decades.
Meanwhile, how many light-skinned faces have you seen on TV or in newspapers toiling in the streets and hovelling in makeshift tents in the wake of that earthquake…?
For the record, it does not reflect racial self-loathing for a predominantly white nation to choose a black beauty queen because that merely constitutes a quaint exception to the rule. By contrast, it is the legacy of slavery (racism, white supremacy, etc) that makes black preferences for white notions of beauty so insidious.
And don’t get me started on the legacy of black-on-black racism, which stems primarily from the fact that light-skinned blacks (invariably the more prideful, privileged few) have often been more racist in their interaction with dark-skinned ones (invariably the resentful, envious others) than some white folks….
So, black is beautiful … but lighter is better…? With all due respect to Miss Bertin, this is pretty sad, don’t you think…?
That said, reports are that business mogul Donald Trump, owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, effectively handpicks the winners to serve his PR purposes. Therefore, he would do well to tap Miss Haiti for Miss Universe this year for all of the international goodwill this would surely engender….
NOTE: I am well aware that Miss Bertin was whisked into exile in the DR at age nine – following the political assassination of her mother. But this does not make her any more entitled to be crowned Miss Haiti than the assassination of JFK made his daughter Caroline more entitled to serve as a U.S. Senator. Not to mention that some of the dark-skinned contestants could probably cite childhood tragedies of their own, adding of course that, unlike Miss Bertin, they did not have the good fortune to be plucked from their dire circumstances to live a charmed life elsewhere.