As Online Hostility Escalates, Former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha James, Apologises For Insensitive Remarks
A little over 24 hours after she made controversial remarks that made headlines locally and internationally, Samantha Katy James, former Miss Universe Malaysia has released a statement over her poor choice of words. There was radio silence from the pageant titleholder after she called out a few people who challenged her views, as people continued to question and berate her over her insensitive remarks. Just last night, she posted a three-page apology on Instagram.
She acknowledges that she has seen and heard the criticism and advice she has received after posting that because she does not live in America, what is going on there does not apply to her. She also claimed that by responding in anger, “it seems like the ‘whites’ won”.
In her apology, she explains her controversial stance that people “choose to be born as a black person in America”. Expressing her understanding, she leans into the spiritual ideology that human beings are temporary while our souls are what lingers after we are gone. Aligning the idea that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”, she says that our souls choose our journey at the start so that we can go through “lessons from the path we tailor-made for us.”
She also acknowledges and understands that she should have “phrased [her] content differently” and accepts responsibility for what she has sad, confirming that she will be more careful with her words in the future.
She also comments on her choice to say “To the black people, Relax, take it as a challenge, makes you stronger”. She explains that her intention and what it ultimately came across as was different. She wanted it to be “understood as a heartfelt message to all victims of racism be it any colour”.
The 25-year-old beauty went on to confirm her parentage after people questioned her own race and the need to tick “lain-lain” (others) when declaring her race in Malaysia. She confirms that she grew up in foster care with an Indian Malaysian family while her mother is Chinese Malaysian and her father, Brazilian. She did not comment further.
She has disabled the comments on her post, which may be a smart move, considering all the negativity that currently flood her older posts.
So.. What now?
Now, collectively, we learn. From this one “poorly articulated” mistake, we see how easy it is for people to band together to support a cause, to stand in solidarity against a centuries-old problem like racism. We also see how some choose to condemn rather than inform. Throughout this narrative, we see the following come up:
“She’s so stupid”
“She’s so ugly”
“If I could, I would slap her”
Alongside comments like:
“If only she would accept and choose to learn”
These polarizing comments show progress and regression. In the same way that media highlights the violent protests over peaceful ones, there are two different ways that people are calling for change. Neither way may be right or wrong, but the lingering effects will differ. Violence leaves scars, and while some may argue that peaceful marches may only fall on deaf ears, there may be less damage this way. Hold and be held accountable through acceptance and learning. At the end of the day, both means are for the same end – so choose to educate and call for change in the best way we know how, by showing our support through petitions, sharing fact-checked information, donating and spreading love. If there is anything the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the table, it’s that we can choose to be positive and informed – as long as we choose to do it together.
*Cover image credits: Background: Valentin Salja on Unsplash