Fierce

Some Latinos Expressed Racist Comments Over Miss Puerto Rico Losing Miss Universe Crown To Miss South Africa

Whenever pageants first began, the winners have typically been white and blonde. Societal beauty standards have only recently begun to change slightly favoring women of different body sizes and skin colors. That is why it’s so incredibly powerful and refreshing (not to mention historic) to see the top pageant crowns bestowed upon Black women. However, not everyone is accepting of this new, more inclusive pageant world. 

On Saturday, Toni-Ann Singh, Miss Jamaica, won the Miss World pageant. The week before that Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, won the title of Miss Universe meaning that the five top pageant titles belong to Black women.

Credit: @HBCUBuzz / Twitter

This historic trend began to take shape earlier this year when Miss USA Chelsie Kryst, Miss Teen USA Kaleigh Garris, and Miss America Nia Franklin won their respective pageants, putting a much-needed cultural shift on the center stage. 

After her win, Singh tweeted, “To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world – please believe in yourself. Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine, but yours. You have a PURPOSE.”

However, last week when Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, won the title of Miss Universe against the runner up, Miss Puerto Rico, some Latinos showed their true racist colors.

Credit: @KidMoney1996 / Twitter

Some Latinos on social media were clearly cheering on Miss Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson, and expressed some racist and mean comments after she lost. 

The firestorm began when the women were asked the final question by host Steve Harvey. 

They were asked, “What is the most important thing we should teach young girls today?” Anderson gave a pretty mediocre response, saying, “In a world where many people wear masks, it’s such a beautiful thing to see an authentic soul.” 

Tunzi’s response, in comparison, was beautiful and eloquently stated. 

“I think one of the most important things we should be teaching young girls today is leadership,” she said. “It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labeled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space. Nothing as important as taking up space in society.” 

That response ended up winning her the crown. 

One of those that didn’t like that Tunzi won over Anderson was journalist Maria Celeste.

Credit: mariacelestearraras / Instagram

Celeste said on her show “Al Rojo Vivo,” according to Noticel, that when it comes down to it, these pageants should remain beauty pageants and not based on a contestant’s IQ level. Celeste tried to back peddle on her Instagram page by saying, “Great job Miss Puerto Rico – you were my candidate, but the jury’s composition always plays an important role in the final result, and without a doubt, the new Miss Universe is very pretty too.”

Yamilet González, a House of Representatives candidate for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico, also said negative things about Tunzi.

Credit: comiteboricua / Instagram

In a video post on social media, González was speaking to a man about the pageant and said, among other disrespectful things, Tunzi shouldn’t have been a part of the show because of her looks. 

Jose Pastrana, a Supervisor de Zona de Educación Especial in Puerto Rico is also coming under fire for his racist comments against Tunzi that he posted on Facebook.

Credit: Jose Pastrana / Facebook

The Department of Education in Puerto Rico is investigating Pastrana’s comments. They released the statement saying, “The expressions made through personal social networks and after hours of work of the employee José Pastrana do not represent at all the values and principles that we instill through the Department of Education.” 

A feminist organization that fights against anti-Black violence said the type of racism we’re seeing in the aftermath of Miss Puerto Rico losing to a Black woman is a racism that exists every day on the island and everywhere.

Credit: Colectiva Feminista / Facebook

“There is nothing like a Miss Universe pageant to uncover the disgusting racism that is lived in Puerto Rico on a daily basis. We are just returning home and we encounter racial hatred and anti-black violence. From this we will continue to express ourselves later but, for now, we want to show our repudiation, anger, and outrage at the barbarities, insults and extreme violence that have been expressed by social networks. That violence IS THE SAME as Trump’s.”

READ: The Miss Universe Pageant Featured Its First Openly Lesbian Contestant And Crowned Miss South Africa The Winner

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

Things That Matter

A Warehouse Full Of Forgotten Supplies From 2017 Was Just Found In Puerto Rico After More Than 1000 Earthquakes Hit The Island

@IGD_News / Twitter

Over the past two and a half weeks, Puerto Rico has experienced more than 1000 earthquakes. This number may seem unbelievable, but it’s true: after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the island on January 7—the largest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in more than a century—aftershocks have continued to jolt the island, leaving hundreds of people homeless, lacking supplies and electricity. Among the aftershocks was January 11’s 5.9 magnitude quake, which caused even further devastation, particularly to the southern part of the island. So far, the earthquakes have cost an estimated $200 million in damages, including the destruction of more than 800 homes.

But the damage hasn’t only been structural—several people are experiencing extreme anxiety as tremors continue to strike the island.

Credit: Facebook / ASSMCA Online

Officials from ASSMCA, Puerto Rico’s  Office of Mental Health Services and Addiction Prevention, have been making their rounds at outdoor shelters where displaced individuals and families have taken refuge, offering mental health support to those most affected by the quakes.

“These aftershocks are triggers for people,” Abdiel Dumeng, an ASSMCA employee, said in Spanish in an interview.”But I have to admit that we’ve seen a decrease in these kinds of crises, because we’ve been working together for a while, teaching people how to stay calm.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), aftershocks will continue to decrease in frequency over the next month and will be exponentially “lower in magnitude”. But in the meantime, Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management estimates that more than 8,000 people are staying in these outdoor shelters—fewer than half are in government-run shelters, while the rest are taking refuge in either informal spaces or shelters run by non-government organizations.

What exactly constitutes an “informal” shelter? Well, some folks have simply taken their beds outside, staying close to home while avoiding the potential dangers of being indoors. Others are crashing with relatives in towns that have experienced less damage than other areas.

Credit: StarTribune

In response to the 5.9 earthquake on January 11, Governor Wanda Vázquez said that she had declared a major state emergency following an initial assessment of the damages incurred. Vázquez also announced the immediate disbursement of $2 million for the towns of Guánica, Utuado, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco, which experienced the most damage due to their proximity to the earthquakes’ epicenter. This $2 million was defined as a way to meet the towns’ most urgent needs—but now, ten days later, la gente está harta, because these needs still haven’t been met.

Just a few days ago, Vázquez fired two high-ranking officials in her administration: Housing Secretary Fernando Gil and Department of Family Secretary Glorimar Andújar. She also fired former Emergency Management Director Carlos Acevedo. The Governor’s reason for the dismissals was an alleged lack of information regarding aid collection and distribution centers.

This lack of information had to do with the discovery of a warehouse in Ponce that was filled with seemingly forgotten disaster supplies. But these supplies were not sent in response to the current crisis—they date back to when Hurricane Maria (a Category 4 storm) hit the island in September 2017.

Credit: Carlos Giusti / Associated Press

And people are understandably angry. On January 20, scores of demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s mansion in San Juan to demand her resignation. While the Governor seems to have tried addressing the issue with the dismissals mentioned above, several people are accusing her of not taking accountability for this appalling error, urging her to step down. And with demonstrators vowing to stay in the streets until Vázquez steps down, the current situation looks a lot like last summer’s demonstrations, which ultimately caused Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign.

When asked by NBC News what the “human impact” of this mistake is, Rafael Gonzalez—President of PROFESA, a Puerto Rican Professional Association that delivered aid during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—said, “We saw it on [sic] Maria. We saw what happens when you don’t deliver the supplies that people need. People die.”

Indeed, more than 3,000 people died as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria (not to mention highly insufficient disaster response on the part of the United States government). At this point, the recent series of earthquakes has resulted in one death and nine injuries. In an attempt to keep that number from rising, Jennifer Gonzales, Puerto Rico’s Commissioner to Congress, joined forces with five other members of Congress to send a letter to Donald Trump, asking him to sign a major disaster declaration that would bring federal funding to the recovery effort.

On January 16, Donald Trump responded by designating six hard-hit towns in the southern part of the island as major disaster areas. Hopefully this will result in an appropriate disaster response—one that will not negligently result in more forgotten aid.

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

James Gourley / Flickr

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.