This weekend, riot police stood on guard outside a small beauty pageant in France to keep a group of white protesters at bay.
What were they angry about? All of the pageant's contestants were Black.
What did they want? A pageant of their own.
"Why should Asians and Africans come here and have more rights than us?" an anonymous demonstrator told Radio France International. "This is why we are demanding a Miss White France."
White French already have an all-white pageant — and its name is Miss France.
The Miss Black France pageant was thrown as a counterpart to the prestigious Miss France competition where Black women gracing the catwalk are few and far between for a nation in which 20 percent of its population is first- and second-generation immigrants.
The ignorance displayed by the pageant protesters is representative of a hallmark of modern racism; a disconnected white populace which believes that social inclusion means adding a token ethnicity here and there and calling it equality.
The pro-white pageant protesters weren’t the only ones who made disapproving remarks about the event. Despite receiving support from the French Representative Council of Black Associations, the group’s founder and former president, Patrick Lozès, called the pageant divisive and dangerous amid the country's delicate climate surrounding this year’s presidential elections.
“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,” Lozès said, according to France 24. “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.”
Ironically enough, Blacks in France should be more “afraid” of thinking like Lozès’ than a Black beauty pageant. Throughout history, when shut out of industries and institutions because of our skin color, Blacks have never benefitted from feeding off fear and going along with the status quo.
Lucky for the Black French women wishing to enter France’s fashion industry, Miss Black France founder Frédéric Royer doesn’t plan on ending the pageant unless he sees some changes.
"Here in France, they never put a Black girl on their cover. Never, never, never. So, my aim … is to open the minds here in France. And when we have more Black candidates in Miss France, when we have more Black girls on the covers of the magazines, maybe I’ll stop Miss Black France,” Royer told RFI.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Foc Kan/WireImage/Getty Images)