Seven-year-old Jakiyah McKoy was crowned Little Miss Hispanic Delaware two weeks ago but was soon forced to relinquish her title after concerns over her heritage led to an investigation and sparked a backlash.
According to policy, the pageant participants are required to be of at least 25 percent Latino heritage.
McKoy allegedly qualified because her grandmother was born in the Dominican Republic but a pageant official admits that her family was asked to confirm her heritage after the organization was questioned on the issue. The other contestants were allegedly not asked to provide proof of their backgrounds.
“Her parents were asked to bring in documentation. Of all of the documentation brought in there was nothing that confirmed Dominican heritage,” Maria Perez, president of Nuestras Raíces Delaware, told Latino Rebels. Perez works for the organization that sponsors the pageant.
“Whenever we are questioned, we ask for them to bring that stuff in,” she added.
Perez said McKoy’s heritage could have been confirmed if it was indicated on her mother’s birth certificate.
“The mother said she didn’t want to go through it,” said Perez.
Instead, the pageant winner’s family submitted documentation of guardianship provided by the state. According to earlier reports, proof of her grandmother’s heritage was difficult to confirm since she had passed away.
“We can’t have her be the queen if she doesn’t have the proper documentation,” Perez said. “It’s not the first time that we’ve been confronted with the [burden of proof]. It’s happened in the past and they’ve brought in the proof and we were satisfied with it.”
However, Perez speculated that McKoy’s family sparked and spread “rumors” that Jakiyah’s removal was because she was black.
Eventually, McKoy was stripped of her crown and now stands as the runner-up of the pageant — but one Brooklyn resident is fighting for McKoy to keep her title and has launched a petition.
“This petition is to demand that Jakiyah McKoy keep her rightfully won crown, because her beauty represents us all,” the petition, launched by Daniel Jose Older on Change.org, reads.
The petition has amassed over 450 signatures so far. Meanwhile, Perez denies that McKoy’s race played a role in her demotion and added that several of the pageant’s former winners have been both black and Hispanic.
“Color has nothing to do with it,” she said. “We’re all Latinos. That’s why we’re so beautiful because we come in all different colors.”
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works