A former Miss Universe Malaysia received backlash after publishing a series of disparaging Instagram posts about the protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose neck was kneeled on for over 8 minutes by a White police officer.
Samanatha Katie James, who is Malaysian, Chinese, and Brazilian but identifies as White, called the protesters “foolish humans,” saying that their reactions mean that “the ‘Whites’ won.”
Today, she apologized on Instagram, saying “I do hear you. I’m sorry. I know you’re hurting. I know its unfair”
In her original post which sparked the backlash she said, “To the black people: Relax, take it as a challenge, makes you stronger. You chose to be born as a ‘colored’ person in America for a reason. To learn a certain lesson.
“Accept it as it is, till now hunger and poverty still exists. It is what it is. It’s inevitable. Best you can do is remain calm, protect heart, don’t allow it to crumble. That’s your responsibility.”
The 6-day nationwide protests sparked by Floyd’s death have called for an end to institutional racism and police brutality in the U.S.
The officer that knelt on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but the other three officers — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng — have not been charged.
A follower asked James to clarify what she meant by “choo[sing] to be born ‘colored.'”
“Like our souls. Chose this life, this country, this race, this human form, specifically,” James replied in another post.
“…I always wonder why I’m born in Malaysia, as a White girl, with Chinese mom and Indian grandparents and Brazilian dad. But I chose this all for a reason, as a soul.”
In her apology, she further explained “In our process towards evolution as a human being, on earth. We choose our body, our family, our place of birth, our name and our lessons from the path we take tailor made for us.”
Her responses prior to her apology have been met with criticism, with “Samantha” and “Miss Universe Malaysia” trending on Malaysia’s Twitter trends list on Monday evening, according to Malay Mail.
Malaysian American actor Henry Golding also took to social media in a slightly stronger tone, saying he was “infuriated” by her remarks.
“You have zero idea what Black people have to go through on a day to day basis,” the Crazy Rich Asians star wrote. “For you to be talking such racist sh*t on a platform like yours needs to be called out.”
He then expressed the need for everyone to “teach and educate” on social injustice, pointing to the Bersih rallies in Malaysia, which called for fair and transparent election reform.
Others on social media have demanded James be stripped of her 2017 title.
The Miss Universe Malaysian Organization (MUMO) responded to the backlash yesterday, releasing a statement, calling James’s posts “inappropriate, offensive, unacceptable and hurtful.”
“The views expressed on Samantha’s personal Instagram account are her own personal views and are neither the view nor position of MUMO,” they continued. “Samantha Katie James is not contracted to MUMO and has not represented the organisation since June 2018.”
As of today, one of James’s sponsors, Malaysian make-up company Velvet Vanity, cut ties with her, citing her posts as the reason.
“We are not affiliated with her anymore,” the company said in a statement on Instagram. “As a brand, we support #blacklivesmatter and we would never associate ourselves with racist behaviors in any way.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story.