The history of Mexico’s afro-Mexican population was previously addressed, and we can appreciate how hard it is for them to subsist in a country that only recognized them as recently as 2015 (yes, IN 2015).
I’m a big fan of beauty pageants, and I truly think of them as something much deeper than a stereotypical view of beauty, for example, the past Miss Peru pageant used its platform to give a message about gender violence. As I support my country, I’m aware of the candidates and crowned queens. Samantha Leyva, a 24-year-old nurse from the Mexican state of Guerrero, captured the attention of not only me but many other Mexicans and even foreigner beauty pageant fans for her characteristic afro-Mexican beauty as, sadly, it is not seen very often in the media and beauty pageants in general.
She’s a part of Miss Mexico Organization, the organization in charge of sending well-prepared beauty queens and kings to the Miss World, Mister World, Miss Supranational and Miss United Continents pageants among many others. The organization has distinguished itself from others by their freshness and their constant support to causes such as diversity in Mexico.
Samantha is proudly going to represent Mexico on Miss Supranational, which will take place on Dec. 1, and I got the chance to interview her on her afro-identity and her preparation for the pageant.
Credit: @VisitGuerreroMX via TwitterHow have you prepared for the upcoming Miss Supranational?
“It has been a preparation that started since the Miss World Mexico pageant finished (back in 2016 when she placed 1st runner-up); I had news I could go to an international, so I never lowered my guard. I kept training physically and mentally. When they told me the wonderful news that I would officially represent Mexico, I kept working my English, runway walk, diction, poses for the camera and more. I think I’ve gotten better; I feel more confident, and I’m sure I’ll give the best of me to leave my country’s name high.”
How do you feel as you are the second afro-Mexican to represent Mexico in an international pageant?
“It is a big responsibility and a great chance to show Mexico’s ethnic diversity and to make emphasis on women — not just from Mexico, but from the whole world — to accept themselves as they are and trust themselves, their capabilities, that they become fearless and chase their dreams. Miss Mexico Organization is leading the way to the social inclusion of the country’s own diversity, because it’s time to feel proud of where we are from — of our origins.”
For you, what’s Mexican beauty? How is it represented?
“It’s the beauty that shows the Mexican woman; it’s a woman who smiles, who is happy, hardworking, an athlete, an entrepreneur, a professional and that without a doubt shows that against any adversity or challenge we can rise up.”
Have you ever been a victim of racism in your experience as a beauty queen?
“At some point, yes, but I think today I know and acknowledge what I’m capable to do as a woman. In this case, as a beauty representative, I’m the spokeswoman for a whole country, and I have the means to make clear of what us Mexicans are made of.”
Have you been inculcated about your culture and roots since you were a kid or was there a moment of realization where you said: “I’m afro-Mexican”?
“Since I was a little girl. Because I grew up with all the customs of that community; I grew up with their shortcomings, experiences, their success and even if I wasn’t born in a prominently afro community nor were my parents, I consider myself afro-Mexican for the simple fact that I feel very proud of my community and their people.”
What can you say in the name of your whole community? Do you think they’re given enough support?
“The community of Costa Chica where the most percentage of afro-Mexican people live in the state of Guerrero is a community that has multiple deficiencies; hard access to basic services such as healthcare, education and employment. These communities need the support — not only federal but governmental — to firstly have the constitutional recognition and progressively to improve their quality of life.”
Do you think there’s still racism in Mexico in 2017?
“Yes, it’s hard to accept; it’s hard to consider it as such. In my point of view, I don’t think it’s a social problem that’s impossible to get rid of, but it requires an ensemble with society to eradicate this problem.”
What can you say to the whole afro-latino community?
“We are a community known for being kind, hardworking, happy and always positive; we have to use everything in our favor to be a community that’s united and strong.”
All the success in the world to Samantha and the other contestants, and thanks to Miss Mexico Organization for finally making beauty pageants a reflection of Mexico’s magnificent diversity.