Daily Mail (London), September 27, 2013
A 7-year-old girl crowned Little Miss Hispanic Delaware in an August 31 pageant was stripped of her crown last week by pageant sponsors who said she wasn’t Latina enough.
Jakiyah McKoy took the top prize in the pageant also known as Miss Chiquita Delaware, stirring immediate outcries from some attendees because McKoy ‘was not the best representative of a Latin beauty.’
Why? Because her skin was of a darker color than the other contestants, though sponsor Nuestras Raíces Delaware claims it was the girl’s family’s inability to prove the requisite ’25 percent latina heritage’ that motivated them to strip her of the title.
According to the McKoys, one of Jakiyah’s grandparents was a native of La Vega, Dominican Republic.
El Tiempo Hispano reports that president of Nuestras Raíces Delaware Maria Parez claims the family just couldn’t prove it.
‘Her parents were asked to bring in documentation. Of all of the documentation brought in there was nothing that confirmed Dominican heritage,’ Perez said.
A Change.org petition, which as of Thursday evening had just under 500 supporters, contends that it was the color of Jakiyah’s skin and not her lack of provable Latina heritage that lost her the crown.
‘Nuestras Raices Delaware has blocked her win after an outcry from people claiming that, because she is Black, she is ‘not the best representative of Latin beauty,’ writes Daniel José Older, who started the petition. ‘The title is now pending while the committee ‘investigates’ Jakiyah’s heritage. Meanwhile, none of the other competitors were subject to such an investigation.’
Perez, meanwhile, claims the issue has arisen before. She told Latino Rebels that when questions arise over a contestant’s authentic Hispanic roots, her organization asks for proof.
‘We can’t have her be the queen if she doesn’t have the proper documentation,’ she said. ‘It’s not the first time that we’ve been confronted with the [burden of proof]. It’s happened in the past and they’ve brought in the proof and we were satisfied with it.’
Perez believes it was Jakiyah’s family that started rumors that she was stripped of the title for being black and maintains her organization’s decision was not racially motivated.
‘Color has nothing to do with it,’ she told Latino Rebels. ‘We’re all Latinos. That’s why we’re so beautiful because we come in all different colors.’
Petition support Martina Ayala agreed, but wrote that she signed the petition because she sees hypocrisy in Jakiyah’s treatment.
‘If her ethnicity is being “investigated,” you need to do the same to all other contestants. Latinos come in all colors – we are “mestizos” and Jakiyah represents our African roots — she is a beautiful representative of “Nuestras Raices.” Nuestras Raices Delaware – stop the self-hate and educate yourselves on what it means to give honor to “Nuestras Raices.”’
In the end, it could boil down to a simple lack of documentation, and not a lack of Latina heritage, that has caused this controversy.
Jakiyah’s Dominican grandmother is deceased. ‘Nothing came up,’ Perez explained. ‘There is no information on this deceased woman.’