Congrats, dazzling Davina — nothing like a feel-good story

Thursday, November 30, 2017

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The outpouring of national joy that accompanies outstanding accomplishments by Jamaicans at the international level is symptomatic of the pride we feel — every one of us to a man — in the fact that “wi lickle but wi tallawah”.

The latest to effect this national celebration of self in Jamaicans is, of course, Miss Davina Bennett, when she placed third in the prestigious Miss Universe 2017 pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday evening.

That Miss Bennett works with deaf students, and is reported to be working on a new sign language app, makes it easier to celebrate someone who is not just beauty but brains as well, with a well-developed sense of community.

It is probably inevitable that many Jamaicans would feel that she was robbed of the crown. After all, we have become accustomed to winning big on the Miss World and Miss Universe stages, with three Miss World titles from Joan Crawford (1963); Cindy Breakspeare (1976) and Lisa Hanna (1993).

It is noteworthy that Miss Bennett showed her class by warmly congratulating the winner of the 2017 contest, Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, and all those who placed from a field of 92 contestants.

In placing third, Miss Bennett became only the second Jamaican beauty to crack the top three at Miss Universe, joining Yendi Phillipps, who finished in second place in 2010.

From the flood of comments that followed her third place and Caribbean queen title, it is clear that Miss Bennett's natural afro hairstyle stirred special pride in many race-conscious individuals who interpreted it as an affirmation of her blackness.

We note, for example, the online post from Lindel McCormack: “What Ms Bennett demonstrated on the international stage was a black young woman who is conscious, full of self-confidence, amazingly beautiful, eloquence, smart, graciousness and a pose second to none. Well done, Davina, you made your parents, family, friends and the entire Jamaica proud.”

Speaking to the depth of pride experienced, usa-on the outside looking in said: “This young lady made me cry last night in the emergency room at Kings County Hospital. My other co-workers and well-wishers were so proud of her achievement. A soul hair sister almost took it. Congrats, girl. With all the crime going on in Jamaica you gave the country something to cheer about.”

A useful point to make, however, is that the propensity for feeling proud has nothing to do with race. The outpouring was no less for Miss Tessanne Chin — of Chinese heritage — when she won Season Five of NBC's The Voice contest.

Jamaicans regard themselves as world-beaters who have a disproportionate influence on the world. Note the use of Jamaican street language by Mr Steve Harvey, the Miss Universe emcee, after asking her to do Mr Usain Bolt's signature 'to di worl' pose: “Gal, booyaka booyaka!”

Miss Bennett's high achievement belongs to all Jamaicans. It's a feel-good story we all relish. And we'll do so for as long as we can.




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