Pageant organizers hit back at ‘racist’ comments

The organizers of Miss Universe Barbados are firing back at critics of the choice of Shannon Harris as the winner of this year’s pageant, telling them to get on with it.

A number of Barbadians have turned to social media to express their disapproval of the 21-year-old, mixed-race international model, who, although born and raised here, they complained was white and should not represent the country.

Miss Barbados Universe Shannon Harris
Miss Barbados Universe Shannon Harris

However, National Director of the Miss Universe pageant Brian Greene told Barbados TODAY the “simply absurd” comments were inappropriate, and he called on those fuelling racist discourse to stop the chatter.   

“Shannon was born and bred here; she was educated at Harrison College. Shannon is 100 per cent Bajan and has every right to be wearing the crown. We opened the pageant to all shapes, sizes [and] colours. As long as you are Barbadian you could enter . . . We had an incredible top five and a fabulous top three and now an amazing queen, and we are delighted to be working with the new queen over the next few months getting her ready for the [Miss Universe] pageant,” Greene said.

While some people felt Harris’ race should disqualify her, there were many who jumped to the young woman’s defence; something that did not escape Greene.

“The reality is that [it is] a small percentage of persons who have those negative feelings. A large section of people are so proud of our new queen. So I just plead with the public to move on and stop feeding the beef.”

Miss Universe Barbados’ Media Relations and Public Relations Consultant Gaynelle Marshall echoed Greene’s sentiments, adding that Harris deserved the crown and would make Barbados proud at the international pageant in January.

She too dismissed the critics, arguing that they were in the minority.

“I think social media has responded to itself [and] whatever perceived negative comment was made was soundly trumped by the Barbadian public. Shannon is a beautiful and very smart Barbadian who is more than capable of furthering the Barbadian brand and Barbados understands this and they agree. You will never get everyone to agree with everything in life but there is absolutely no doubt we have found our Miss Universe Barbados,” Marshall told Barbados TODAY.

Veteran broadcaster Vic Fernandes, a former promoter of the pageant, was at the centre of controversy after a white Canadian, Liz Wadman, was crowned Miss Barbados Universe in 1985, leading to the popular calypso, Miss Barbados, by The Mighty Gabby.

Today, Fernandes weighed in on the matter, telling Barbados TODAY he had “no difficulty with questions of race being discussed”, but not in the “absurd, ridiculous” context of who was qualified or suitable for a particular post.

“As long as mankind is around, we will always have issues around with regard to race, ethnicity, religion and those kinds of issues. Should we be having them? Not in my opinion . . . . Having said that, issues of race, religion and so on, those things will always be with us because it speaks to the prejudices that people have and it speaks to perhaps the baggage that they have.

“It’s unfortunate. Do we criticize [surfer] Chelsea Tuach for her great performances because she is white? We celebrate her, don’t we?  We celebrate Akela Jones. Do we celebrate her because she is black, or because she is an outstanding athlete? The reality is that the judges have made a decision and that is their decision. To reduce it to a discussion of race is to me absurd, ridiculous and really does not speak well to us as a people,” Fernandes added.

Along with the coveted title which she won on Saturday night, Harris walked away with $115,000 in prizes, inclusive of the $10,000 crown. She will have one week of rest before her official preparations begin for the Miss Universe show in January.

12 Responses to Pageant organizers hit back at ‘racist’ comments

  1. jrsmith September 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

    What is the white problems with black people , all you people is waiting for Jesus he is blonde haired blue eyed he is a white man…

    • Bajansun September 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Jesus is not white with blue eyes and blonde hair at all. That image has been proven by historians and theologians alike to be a fake. The rubbish being passed off by whites as Jesus was meant solidify the idea of white supremacy. Jesus was not white neither were the original Jews.

  2. Jennifer Mottley September 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

    If all the Black Bajans did a DNA test they all will find White and African in our Blood. So get over. She is a Bajan.

  3. Realist September 20, 2016 at 11:57 am

    She was the best looking one in the race; leave the girl. I am BLACK.

    • candy September 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm


  4. Bajansun September 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Racism may or may not be at play here but that’s besides the point. I see why folks would be mad because for years this pageant has always equated European features to be more beautiful. The real question is why do black people enter white contest and get upset when we aren’t accepted. If White people want to hold up white standards of beauty then fine but don’t let them do it at your expense. Let it be only white people in that contest and see if the world watches or cares. Why don’t we have our own contest that truly highlights our unique features? White people are very good at pretending to let black people in their contest, in their work places and schools and then they make sure that the black person doesn’t become the star or the one everyone looks too. This further cements in the minds of whites their superiority and makes some blacks feel inferior. Whites having been running this trick for years and black people always fall victim to it.

  5. Sue Donym September 20, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Are people objecting just because she’s white? How many of them would be rejoicing if a black woman won Ms Iceland? Seems silly when you THINK about it, doesn’t it?

  6. seagul September 20, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    All ‘dark’ minorities are subject to hatred (did I ever say otherwise?), but the “classic Black” woman, with kinky hair and strong pigmentation, is still the -only- one not to see the stage, in a decade with misses “of color”.What good can come from pretending to be blind to the bias that underlies these stratified orders of racial exclusion? We don’t live in iceland.

  7. harry turnover September 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Those stupid people on social media don’t know that they got white BAJANS too ?….wunna en got nutten else to do ?…why wunna don’t comment on the black people dat “strangling” wunna wid tax and more tax and fooling wunna all de time ?

  8. Gavin Dawson
    Gavin Dawson September 20, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Next thing will be if Miss World was from china the comments would be funny how a Caribbean girl never gets to win.

  9. Shelley Crim
    Shelley Crim September 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Are you kidding me? There are so many important issues like lSIS, Drought, Unemployment, etc. And people are complaining about someone skin color? Get a life

  10. Brewster September 21, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Well said Mr H Turnover!


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