2019: Year of black African girls

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO'S COLUMN OPINION

By Emmanuel Onwubiko

I write from a profound background of experience as a child of a dark coloured mother and a husband of a black and beautiful wife.

So this is about the milestones made globally by black African girls/ladies in just one year alone which should serve as a bedrock to urge all lovers of black Africa to push back on the drive by some modern day girls in Africa to bleach their original colour so as to be white.

Are you a man of distinction if you are reading this piece? What colour tickles your fancy when you admire a female?

For me, I am a worshipper of the idol of black colour not necessarily because I was incubated in the womb of a very black woman. But as a matter of intrinsic choice and for the purpose of holding in high esteem, that colour that the divine Being endowed myself with and my other like species of the human creatures.

Come on! Emmanuel! Why all these poetic fantasies on the black coloured skin?

Well, from the deepest consciousness of my being, I have decided to engage in this reflection motivated by the irony of the emergence of black winners in virtually all the most important beauty competitions for the female gender held this year ranging from the most glamorous Miss Universe, Miss World and to cap it all the most competitive of all Pageantries known as the Miss USA.

Mind you, United States of America is the strongest nation in the world in terms of civilization and military advancements.

Also, America is led by Donald Trump who is regarded as a sympathizer of white supremacy.

To have a black American lady take the lead in the most strategic beauty contest in a nation like the United States of America led by Donald Trump who has the confusing notoriety as someone who is a racist, is to say that this year is not to be forgotten in a hurry but must be symbolically renamed as the year of black girls.

Additionally, the emergence of a black South African girl as the winner of Miss Universe should send clear message to her compatriots to have a rethink and stop any further xenophobic violence targeting fellow black Africans only because they left their homes in other parts of Africa to settle in South Africa which as it were, was aggressively developed by the white racist governments of the past apartheid era. After all, it took black solidarity to get apartheid dethroned. 

We will return to that angle of the black South African involvement in xenophobia.

First, let us look at the historicity of all the beauty competitions that have all been won by black girls so as to very clearly understand the wider ramifications of their victories then we situate these phenomenal feats by black girls to the craze by some Africans to bleach their black natural skin to look like white girls.

By the way, this piece is not negating the essence of the colour white but is meant to tell black girls to be just the same way that white girls are proud of their beautiful skin colour which the divine creator gave them as their unique identity. I understand that some black men also bleach their skin to become whites. Michael Jackson did that. Many other men still do it. So it’s not the bad habit of only black girls.

Reading through the report done by the British Broadcasting Corporation from the venue of the 2019 Miss Universe has clearly supported my assertions aforementioned.

The BBC reports that the 68th Miss Universe pageant was held on December 8, 2019 at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States.

It recalled that Catriona Gray of the Philippines crowned her successor Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa by the end of the event.

This is South Africa’s third win after their recent victory in 2017. This edition also saw the crowning of the first black woman winner since Leila Lopes was crowned in 2011.

BBC statistically concluded that contestants from 90 countries and territories participated in this year’s competition.

The pageant was hosted by Steve Harvey in his fifth consecutive year, with Olivia Culpo and Vanessa Lachey as backstage correspondents, and with a performance by Ally Brooke.

The new Mouawad Power of Unity crown made its debut. Swe Zin Htet of Myanmar became the first openly lesbian contestant to compete for the Miss Universe title.

Her emergence and it’s symbolism wasn’t lost to her even as he stated that: “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful.

“I think that it is time that that stops today.”

That’s the message from newly-crowned Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, who is from South Africa.

More than 90 women from across the world took part in the pageant which was held in Atlanta in the US on Sunday.

Zozibini beat Puerto Rico’s Madison Anderson and Mexico’s Sofia Aragon in the final three to take the tiara.

Finalists in the competition were asked a range of questions on topics such as climate change, protest and social media.

In her final question, 26-year-old Zozibini was asked what we should be teaching young girls today.

Her answer was leadership.

“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,” she said.

“I think we are the most powerful beings on 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.”

Zozibini has been described as “a proud advocate for natural beauty”

Zozibini is the first black woman to win the competition since Leila Lopes in 2011.

The Angolan former winner congratulated her in a post on Instagram, writing: “Congrats girl you did us very proud.”

Relfecting on her win, Zozibini wrote: “Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it.

“May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine.

“I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!”

The hashtag #MissUniverse was trending on Twitter and she even got a shout-out from Oprah Winfrey.

What indeed is the history behind the yearly competition to crown the winner of Miss Universe?

From documented records derived from the official websites of Miss Miss Universe, we are told that Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the United States-based Miss Universe Organization.

The contest is reportedly the largest pageant in the world in terms of live TV coverage, airing yearly in more than 190 countries worldwide to an audience of over 500 million people.

Along with Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants, or so it seems.

The Miss Universe Organization and its brand, along with Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, are currently owned by the WME/IMG talent agency.

What about the other powerful contest in which another black professional career girl emerged as winner known as Miss USA 2019?

It was reported that the Miss USA 2019 was the 68th Miss USA pageant. It was held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada on May 2, 2019. Nick Lachey and Vanessa Lachey served as hosts, while Lu Sierra served as commentator, all for the second consecutive time. Additionally, it featured performances from T-Pain and Nick Lachey.

Sarah Rose Summers of Nebraska crowned her successor Cheslie Kryst of North Carolina at the end of the event. Kryst represented the United States at Miss Universe 2019 and placed in the Top 10.

The 2019 competition served as the second consecutive time that the pageant has been held concurrently with the Miss Teen USA competition.

If you think beauty contests is for the never-do-wells then think again. This is because Miss. Cheslie Kryst is a full-time attorney who is licensed to practice law in two states.

She earned both her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina.

This 28-year-old is a former Division I athlete, having competed in the heptathlon, long jump and triple jump on South Carolina’s track and field team.

When Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was named Miss Universe on Sunday, her crowning signified a milestone: the first year that four of the major beauty pageants had simultaneously awarded the top prize to a black woman, so echoes an analyst similarly happy at this turn of events for black girls in the World.

A modern historian recalled that pageants have long been criticized for their antiquated beauty standards and, in many cases, outright racism or gender stereotyping.

The historian also stated that last year, the Miss America Organization announced it would scrap both the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition. And while black women have been winners in the past — notably Vanessa Williams, who in 1984 was the first black woman to be named Miss America — they have never been as successful as this year.

Supporters of the women — Ms. Tunzi, Cheslie Kryst (this year’s Miss USA), Kaliegh Garris (Miss Teen USA) and Nia Franklin(Miss America) — say the recognition sends a powerful message that today’s beauty standards are evolving beyond Barbie-lite, or an era when contestants were prized solely for smooth hair, light skin color and thin lips.

Toni-Ann Singh who is Miss Jamaica won the 2019 Miss World to crown it all for the black women of our time.

BBC observed thus: “It is the first time in history that black women hold the titles of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA; Miss America, Miss Universe and Miss World. This comment by the British officially owned broadcaster should tell the remaining black girls who still go about bleaching their skin that now is the time for them to stop.

Imagine the futility in the craze by some black girls to bleach their skin to be white; this is certainly a case of inferiority complex which is a psychological and an emotional disturbance that must be confronted.

The other day, the social media celebrated a certain skin bleaching entrepreneur who was using chemicals and hot water to help black girl automatically bleach their skin to white.

The thought of skin cancer and other medical conditions that can arise from such practice worried me.

The regulatory agency in charge of food, drugs known as NAFDAC was proactive in moving to close down that semi-color changing laboratory in Lagos.

NAFDAC had reportedly raided the facility of a skin bleaching professional – The attention of the agency had been drawn to the facility after a video of a bleaching process went viral – At the time the video surfaced, Nigerians were outraged by the length to which ladies go to have a fair skin, so reports a local online newspaper.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) reportedly raided the facility of a skin bleaching professional just as it was gathered that the facility belongs to the lady behind a viral bleaching video.

Media had reported that a lady, who described herself as a bleaching expert, had taken to social media to brag about her work after Nigerians condemned a viral bleaching video she was responsible for.

On Wednesday, December 4, the bleaching professional’s facility was raided by NAFDAC.

It was gathered that the viral bleaching video had brought the attention of the agency to the lady. In a video shared online, the officials of the agency were seen removing products from the facility to carry out a quality test at their office.

Can NAFDAC brief Nigeria about the update on this case. There is the need to reinforce our collective rejection of bleaching because of the side effects.

Side effects and precautions of skin bleaching as medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, on July 22, 2019 just as it was written by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst (www.healthline.com).

This review has it that Skin bleaching refers to the use of products to lighten dark areas of the skin or achieve an overall lighter complexion. These products include bleaching creams, soaps, and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.

The medical review aforementioned affirmed that there is no health benefit to skin bleaching. Results aren’t guaranteed and there’s evidence that skin lightening can result in serious side effects and complications.

From a medical standpoint, there’s no need to lighten the skin. But if you’re considering skin bleaching, it’s important to understand the risks.

Skin bleaching they emphasized reduces the concentration or production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. The amount of melanin in your skin is mostly determined by genetics.

People with dark skin have more melanin. Hormones, sunlight, and certain chemicals also affect melanin production.

When you apply a skin bleaching product to the skin, such as hydroquinone, it decreases the number of melanocytes in your skin. This can result in lighter skin and a more even appearance to the skin.

A number of countries have banned the use of skin bleaching products because of the dangers associated with them.

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Trusted Source also issued a notice that over-the-counter (OTC) skin bleaching products are not recognized as safe and effective. The products were deemed not safe for human use based on a review of evidence.

Skin bleaching has been associated with a number of adverse health effects.

Some skin bleaching creams made outside of the United States have been linked to mercury toxicity. Mercury has been banned as an ingredient in skin lightening products in the United States, but products made in other countries still contain mercury.

In a 2014 study Trusted Source of 549 skin lightening creams bought online and in stores, nearly 12 percent contained mercury. About half of these products came from U.S. stores.

AS we mark the year of the black girls, may I suggest to all the First ladies of African countries to lobby so their nations and the African Union can adopt a particular day in a year to CELEBRATE THE DAY OF THE BLACK GIRL.

This is an idea whose time has come.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.com, www.huriwa.blogspot.com,www.thenigerianinsidernews.com.

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