Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 5:43 AM

Miss Haiti: a Black Nation’s “White” Hope

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

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. 

Yet these folks are still so brainwashed by Eurocentric notions of beauty that they chose a Haitian to represent them who looks more white than black.

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.

Related commentaries:
Black is Beautiful
Haitians returning to Africa…?
Trump picks Miss USA

Comments

  1. Pat June 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    How dare you talk about Haiti and self loathing. I don’t know any other black people who are as proud of their heritage as Haitians. 99% of Miss Haiti winners have been of brown to very dark complexion. This fact alone discredits your baseless rant about the so-called self hate that you claim is common among Haitians. Have you ever been there? I doubt it. Moreover Haiti has long history of sending beautiful black women to these pageants. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant. So get over yourself and realize that note everyone is caught up in the African American color issue!Not true.99% of Miss Haiti winners are dark-skinned. Furthermore, Haiti has a long history of winnign pageants with beautiful black women. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant. So get over yourself and realize that note everyone is caught up in the African American color issue!
    Not true.99% of Miss Haiti winners are dark-skinned. Furthermore, Haiti has a long history of winnign pageants with beautiful black women. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant.

    You owe Haitians an apology, Mr. Hall!

  2. Pat June 14, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    YOU ARE WRONG!.99% of Miss Haiti winners are dark-skinned. Furthermore, Haiti has a long history of winnign pageants with beautiful black women. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant

  3. Dianne June 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Sir, your article is irresponsible. You know nothing about Haiti. First black country to win its independence and very proud of it. Even when they call us “poorest country in the western hemisphere” we hold our heads up because we know that our ancestors defeated Napoleon’s army, the British and the Spaniards over 200 years ago to win our independence and we have been paying a price ever since. We are proud of our blackness. Miss Haiti is 100 percent Haitian, her mother is not white and neither is her father. She represents us and we are proud of her and of all our brave sisters who are suffering daily in dear Haiti!

  4. pat June 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I noticed that you removed my comment about your claim that this beatiful Haitian woman was chosen because of self-loathing among Haitians. You can’t handle facts. 99% of Miss Haiti winners have been brown to dark brown in complexion. Haiti has a long history of sendign beautiful black women to these pageants. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant. So get over yourself and realize that note everyone is caught up in the African American color issue!Not true.99% of Miss Haiti winners are dark-skinned. Furthermore, Haiti has a long history of winnign pageants with beautiful black women. In 1975, Gerthie David Miss Haiti was the second black woman to become first runner-up in the history of Miss Universe Pageant. Joelle Apollon, Miss Haiti-World, came in sixth place at Miss World 1975 a few months later. Sixteen years later, Marjorie Vincent, formerly Miss Illinois 1991, won the title of Miss America Pageant. This was the first Miss America to originate from the Caribbean with Haitian roots, and the second black woman to win the pageant.

    You are ignorant and you owe Haitians an apology!

  5. Darren June 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I can assure you that Haitians are one proud people. I have seen a lot in Haiti but self-loathing because of skin color is not one of them. There are beautiful haitian women of all shades. The only one raising the color issue is you and I bet you have a white girlfriend or wife. So get the chip off your shoulder, Sir.

  6. Gael June 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    You should get fired. This is a very racist article. And it wasn’t even done in an objective manner because I am sure you have never been to Haiti and you know nothing about Haitians.

  7. Jamie July 31, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    He is summaril correct about the self loathing. there are a few channels on youtube dedicated to listing peoples of haitian descent who look white…funny thing is those people don’t make it a point to call themselves haitian. I’m sick and tired of haitians who try to make everyone a haitian in hope of raising self esteem and pride in being haitian. I’m haitian 1000% and I understand exactly what this piece is talking about. Get over yourself…something is wrong with the crowning of Ms. Bertin – educated and beautiful as she is…her winning is symptomatic of all the ills in haiti. the less than 1% of the population who own all the land and have access to all of the money coming into haiti are black elites, mulattos and non-blacks from Mideast and elsewhere. During the duvalier regime, you never saw a dark skinned journalist on tv. For a country where illiteracy is over 95% the majority of the citizenry speak creole, yet all business insist on speaking french to keep the classes separate. it’s ridiculous haitians who can’t see the truth

  8. Patrick August 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Haiti is not 95% dark skin. You are a moron.

  9. hc August 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Congratulations to Ms. Bertin. She seems proud to call herself Haitian and seems to want to represent the country well.

    Nevertheless, I agree with Jamie! I don’t know about self-loathing, but there is definitely a belief system in many black communities that it’s safer to place our bets towards success with the lightest among us.

    I say take a braver route. Dark men and women can achieve.

    Our appearance is often held against us – or simply less preferred by some. But when whole people have a chance to present themselves – it’s worth it to watch what happens. Give us that chance, dark skin and all.

  10. Da truth August 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with the writer. Most dark-skinned blacks would rather have a light-skinned woman represent them because the white man told them that’s the beautiful black woman. It’s sad but true and these people on here are in that skin complexion isn’t a factor. If so why do black women bleach their skin?

  11. Da truth August 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with the writer. Most dark-skinned blacks would rather have a light-skinned woman represent them because the white man told them that’s the beautiful black woman. It’s sad but true and these people on here are in denial that skin complexion isn’t a factor. If so why do black women bleach their skin?

  12. F August 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Mr. Hall
    Obviously you don’t know anything about Haiti, nerveless on Sarodj Bertin,
    For your information, Bertin’s mother Mireille Durocher Bertin was assassinated and for safety her family had no choice but to flee to the Dominican Republic. This was neither an easy choice nor an insult to my country Haiti. You are the insult to the injury!

  13. Earl August 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Folks this just shows you the psychosis of “black Americans”. They are a beatdown lot who do not have very high intellect.

    Think about it. Wouldn’t the first thing someone would do is just simply look up the past Miss Haitis? That is what someone with common sense and intelligence would do.

    But in this particular case you have this “black American” flying off the handle because his belief in some crazy nonexistent color system his mind has dreamed up because of his victim complex.

  14. Da truth September 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

    @Earl

    You are in denial just like the so many other blacks. Are you telling me that skin color doesn’t matter in Haiti among dark-skinned and dark skinned people?

    You must be either an uncle Tom or an ignorant white man.

  15. chris September 19, 2010 at 2:42 am

    i am from haiti and living in haiti listen and listen good : haitians are a bunch of sicially and racially motivated people i agree tht mrs bertin is beautiful but you know just as well as i do that she had a huge advantage over the others just by the color of her skin. when your rich and/or light skin in haiti you get away with anything as a black man who took advantage of his more or less good social status in haiti i have seen the worst of both worlds. these ”white” haitians dont give a rats but about the darker ones most of those i know agreed to get to know me just because of my name and not because they liked my face and if it was up to my color they wouldnt ake a step towards me im not being cruel just realistic. even though i well enough financially i still get enormous prejudice from the light skinned. i was there when they revealed mrs bertin every body around me was saying how she had won in advance and they werent the people voting. all you haitians living in the US STOP THINKING YOU KNOW HAITI U DOONNNTTTT. we haitians are a failing country in every sense possible we cant even get over our own selves. that haitian pride you talk about is BS thst same pride is consuming haiti all the way down to its bowels. to proud to seek help but not proud enough to say no to a mullato YOU ARE NOT THE ONES WHO HAS HAD TO GET UP FROM A TABLE AT A RESTAURANT WHERE U WERE PAYING AS MUCH OR MORE MONEY THAN THE MULATTOS THEY GAVE THE TABLE TOO AND IM NOT TALKING ABOUT STUFF THAT HAPPENED 50 YEARS IM ONLY 18 YEARS OLD. get your facts right 99 % of our contestants the guy is trying to denounce the main probleme we suffer from but ur puny insignificant haitian pride doesnt let you see the message. yes it is sad you do not know how many haitians ive seen curse their color or refuking it like it wasent oobvious or like it was some deep dark secret. get a life people say smart things for a change.

  16. Whit October 3, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Wow! You are the very reason that there is still black on black racism today! I am light skinned and I think dark skin is very beautiful. I always have. As a matter of fact, I have never dated a light skinned black man. I’m not saying I never would, but I just wanted to point that out to you. You just assume that all light blacks hate darker blacks. You are SO wrong! I think the different colors that we are is what makes us unique and beautiful. I have never met a lighter black person who has made fun of dark skin or thought they were better than dark skin people. You are still acting like a slave because you are doing what slave owners wanted to do. They wanted to seperate and divide us because they knew that if we came together, we would be a force to reckon with. Stop pointing out the fact that she is light skinned. It only makes you look like the racist one.

  17. Da truth October 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

    @ Whit

    He’s not assuming. He’s telling the truth that you and many others are ignoring and pretending as if it doesn’t exist. The same problem faces black people all across the globe, not just Haiti. Don’t run from it…let’s talk about it.

  18. MAKANDAL January 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Haitians are so ignorants. I’m haitian myself 100% And we all know that their is 2 type of people in Haiti.95% are black and the other 5% are mulatto and arabs descent(lebanon,syria).Since the independance of haiti there was a Fight between the 2 classes.The first one the majority are dark skinned proud of their african heritage and creol speaking the other type are proud of their european heritage and french speaking.The national self-loathing is the heritage of 400 years of humiliation of black people.Not only in Haiti but everyehwre in the world.For 400 years black were threats as animals as half man.That idea still persist in every black nation .To them the success is to look like the white man.We all know in Haiti the lighter you are the higher you are in the society because we still have that dumb colonial education. What we need is an afrocentrist education to let them know how the black man was ruling the world before slavery. Most of those poeple even in Haiti dont even know what is the history of black people before slavery so they are brainwashed with that european colonial education From egypto-nubians kingdoms to Mali they don’t know .Those black people can talk if they want but the lighter you are the cuter you are in the mentality of a lot of people in haiti. Important thing to know that there is at least 5% of mulatos in Haiti and the independance was the unity of black and mulato .So Miss haiti can be mulato even if they are a minority they still have the same Haitian spirit.But that contest of the miss haiti 2010 was a big MASCARADE a non sens and the father of Miss Bertin was the highest member of the Jury «helllooo». That girl is living in the Dominican republic looks and act like a Dominican .Another thing a lot of mulato dont consider themselves as black people lets be honest and it is normal because of the self loathing.Why sould i consider myself as black if the black himself is using whitening soap and perm to look whither???????Self loathing is everywhere because black people don’t know themselves their history their heritage to the world. Why the first black republic don’t even teach their African heritage to their people??We are still slave in our mentality be honest we have to change the education of the black people how come the 5% of mulato in haiti still persit after all theses years?? Because they don’t consider themselves as the 95%. There is a social problem in Haiti but it is to hard to say it.

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