Former Miss Universe Malaysia Slammed For “Racist”, “Ignorant” & “Immature” Response to #BlackLivesMatter Protests
In a new episode of #WhatWereTheyThinking….
Our former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha James (or Samantha Brahmacharini on her Instagram) has found herself in hot water for her recent spree of posts on her Instagram stories alluding to the current, ongoing outrage and protests against the murder of George Floyd in the United States. Via her Instagram, she first talks about how she has nothing to do with what’s going on in America as she doesn’t live there. She then says that the “whites” have “won” because people have responded with violence, thus giving them power over them. She says that those who are not involved and yet are also posting images and words in relation to the movement are being “busy body” and simply following “mindlessly”. In doing so, she says they are “creating unnecessary anguish”.
Samantha then calls out “black people” who, she says need to “relax” and look at the situation as a “challenge” that will make them “stronger”. And then, the 26-year-old starts to say that it was their choice to be “born as a ‘coloured’ person in America” so that they can “learn a certain lesson”. She attempts to clarify her problematic statement with the reason that what she’s said is only understood by “ones who understand this level and state of mind”, citing the different rates at which people grow for why only some will see eye to eye with her. She goes on to talk about how she’s happy with the way things are but she’s also sad by other statistics, like famine and the “inhumanity among humans to each other”.
Needless to say, people are slamming her for her insensitive comments. But the model and once Miss Universe titleholder is taking the time to respond to the criticism. Responding to her initial post about not responding with “rage and anguish”, she simply points out that “fighting never solves anything”. Instead, she chooses to “not follow” what others are doing in generating “anger, and hate” through their actions of sharing and/or talking about what happened with Floyd and the resulting backlash.
And as for her comment about people choosing “to be born coloured”, she explains that,
Our souls chose this life, this country, this race, this human form. Specifically. For a reason.”
She explains how her soul made the choice for her to be born into this life as a Malaysian. Samantha has been vocal about how she comes from a mixed parentage, with her mother being Chinese and her father, Brazillian. She also talks about the difficulty of growing up in Malaysia as a “white girl” and having had to chose “lain-lain” (other) when she had to declare her race. She was a victim of bullying and insults, with her headmistress telling her, “jangan bawa budaya darat” (“don’t bring western cultures”). She attributes her opinions to her difficulties growing up. In response to someone asking what she would do if she were told to accept the kind of words her headmistress threw at her and how we have no right to say that tell the people to just accept their reality, Samantha answered:
“It is what it is, how we respond says everything about us.”
More and more people are taking to their social media to express their disbelief and anger towards her choice of words and response to the situation.
A few hours after she posted her stories, her Wikipedia page was edited to include the controversy and her middle name was changed from “Katie” to “Racist”.
The Twitterverse is up in arms about the issue as well. Samantha is now trending on Twitter, with over 41K tweets with her name and another 22k with the words “Miss Universe Malaysia”.
Local artists – rapper Lil Asian Thiccie, doctor and comedian Dr Jason Leong, photographer Monkey Disease and model Alicia Amin – have started tweeting about it too, condemning her for choosing to use her platform in the way that she has, with disregard for why the #BlackLivesMatter movement has come to be in the first place.
Miss World 2019, Alexis SueAnn has commented on the situation, saying that “If you are not bothered by what is happening to other people, that’s your prerogative” but that the situation with Samantha James is “not something [pageants and beauty queens] stand for”.
Malaysian actor Henry Golding, who starred in “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Last Christmas”, has also weighed in, sharing that despite trying to “keep a cool head”, Samantha’s comments have “infuriated” him.
At present, people around the world are rallying together to support the #BlackLivesMatter protests and discussion of police brutality worldwide, whether or not they are from the US – where the issue unfurled in full force. To be specific about what Samantha is referring to in her stories is the recent flood of messages on social media, as people stand in solidarity and protest, after videos of former police officer Derek Chauvin choking George Floyd to death went viral. Alarming statistics have started resurfacing – resurfacing because these statistics have been around for years upon years on end – with Al Jazeera reporting that black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed than white Americans. In 2019 itself, 1,099 people were killed by police and of that number, 24% were black. This statistic is highlighted even further when you realise that black Americans only make up 13% of the population in the United States. Not only that, but 99% of killings by police from 2013 to 2019 also have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime. Despite this, Samantha says she doesn’t “understand why Malaysians are super bothered by it” on by encouraging people to stop being “super bothered by it.”
There is now a petition on Change.org calling for the Miss Universe Malaysia Organization (MUMO) to strip Samantha of her Miss Malaysia crown and title. The petition states that “Samantha Brahmacharini won her Miss Malaysia title in 2017. Yet she has failed to uphold her title as she prides on her own racist remarks and ignorance on her Instagram stories”. Miss Universe Malaysia has responded in a statement on their Instagram account, saying that they find the posts “inappropriate, offensive, unacceptable and hurtful”.
Instagram has also removed the blue tick signifying a verified account.
Likely has reached out to Samantha for comment but has yet to receive a response. For ways you can do your part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, one twitter user has compiled a list of ways you can help or by supporting Campaign Zero (a police reform group that has been working on policy solutions).