There was uproar when the winner was announced because, according to the public, she was not the best representative of a Latin beauty.
McKoy’s grandmother was born in the Dominican Republic, which is reportedly where her Latin heritage came from. However, a pageant official said her roots were never proved.
Maria Perez, president of Nuestras Raices Delaware, an organization that sponsors the beauty pageant, told Latino Rebels McKoy’s family was asked to provide documents proving she had Latin ancestry.
“She joined the pageant and of course one of the things is you have to be of 25 percent Latino heritage,” Perez said. “Her parents were asked to bring in documentation. Of all of the documentation brought in there was nothing that confirmed Dominican heritage.”
Perez, who is Brooklyn-born, strongly denied allegations the decision was racially motivated, saying that “color has nothing to do with it. We’re all Latinos. That’s why we’re so beautiful because we come in all different colors.”
That didn’t seem to fly with some Twitter folk who chimed in, though, and an account from Feministing, a feminist blog, says the pageant is biased against Hispanics of African descent:
Quick Hit: Delaware pageant confused by black hispanics: Jakiyah McKoy won the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware p… http://t.co/3sZp7K3Dls
Bill Smith, who writes about Latin culture on his blog, posted that the officials are narrow-minded in their view of who is Latino[a]:
It never ceases to amaze me how so many Latinos that I meet in my personal life who are so oblivious to the racial diversity in their own community. I hate to bust some folks bubble, but not all Latinas look like Jennifer Lopez. I’m not Latino, yet I myself have personally met and rubbed elbows [with] Latinos who look like Denzel Washington, Merryl Streep, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Sun-Young-Moon. Where have these folks who criticized the winner been all of their lives assuming you have to be a certain color to be Latino?
Though the title is now “pending” as the committee investigates McKoy’s heritage, Perez noted that she is still the competition’s runner-up.
“All the little girls got crowned,” she said. “I feel so bad for her because she is getting put in the middle of this and that’s exactly what we wanted to avoid.”