Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Winner Says She Will Take Responsibility For Words, Should’ve Been More Attentive
Navigating social media amid a controversial, heated topic is like stomping across a minefield — there’s almost always backlash, and you will probably get hurt.
Unfortunately for Malaysia’s Miss Universe 2017 title holder Samantha Katie James, her “poorly articulated” comments marked her as the target of many #BlackLivesMatter activists.
Although she apologised on Tuesday (2 Jun), it may have been too late — she’s been called out by celebrities, the Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation has distanced itself from her, and she’s even lost her Instagram-verified status.
Here’s a summary on what’s happened since.
Former Miss Universe made comments about “black people”
Ms James first received flak for her take on the protests taking place across the United States due to the shocking death of Mr George Floyd, an African-American man, during an encounter with the police in Minneapolis.
She uploaded a series of posts to her Instagram story, saying that African-Americans “chose to be born as a ‘coloured’ person”, among other questionable claims.
She also added that “it seems like the ‘whites’ won” as the African-American community was deeply hurt and enraged by the incident.
Called out by Henry Golding
Henry Golding – the Hollywood hunk from Crazy Rich Asians who grew up in Malaysia – responded to Ms James’ Instagram stories quickly.
Saying he was “infuriated” by her comments, he added that she had “no idea” about the hardships the African-American community dealt with on a daily basis.
He compared America’s race struggles to Malaysia’s, highlighting their similarities while addressing the importance of education on these matters.
He felt that we should “lend a voice” instead of continuing to maintain “hundreds of years of oppression”.
Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation dismayed over posts
Then, Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation took to Instagram to address its dismay over its past winner’s behaviour.
In a media advisory issued directly to its Instagram page, it said that Ms James’ posts were “inappropriate, offensive, unacceptable and hurtful”.
The organisation further clarified that they are currently in no way affiliated to Ms James, and have not been since June 2018.
Makeup company severs ties with her
As the backlash continued, Malaysian makeup company Velvet Vanity also severed ties with Ms James, saying that they “don’t endorse this kind of discriminatory behaviour”.
In a post on its Instagram account, the company also said it would never associate itself with “racist behaviours” and they are “not affiliated” with her any more.
Ex-beauty queen apologises, will take responsibility for words
Finally, on Tuesday (2 Jun), the former Miss Universe Malaysia took to Instagram to apologise for her controversial comments, saying that she would accept responsibility for them.
She explained that her comment about African-Americans “(choosing) to be black” related to her belief that humans can choose their “body”, “family”, “place of birth” and “name” as well.
Ms James admitted that her comments were “poorly (articulated)”, and said that it would have come off as a “heartfelt message” instead of offensive had she been “more attentive” while writing it.
Think before you post
When it comes to sensitive issues like race, it’s crucial to post with care and think through what you write.
Ms James clearly paid the price for overlooking the nuances of her Instagram stories.
We hope she continues educating herself on the matter, and is able to stand as an ally to the oppressed in the future.