The Miss Universe Jamaica Organization has come out in defense of Miss Jamaica’s controversial national costume.
The costume depicted Annie Palmer, a white slave owner known to torture and murder her lovers and the enslaved.
Legend has it that Palmer’s ghost still haunts the Rose Hall great house in Montego Bay, which is now a tourist attraction.
Miss Jamaica 2019, 19-year-old Iana Tickle Garcia, is from Montego Bay, and sponsored by Rose Hall.
Over the weekend, many Jamaicans took to social media to strongly criticize the costume.
But the franchise holder has hit back.
In a lengthy statement posted on social media, the Miss Universe Jamaica Organization says because the title winner is from Montego Bay, they chose to highlight a tourism icon and national treasure from the tourism capital.
They say the Rose Hall Great House and the legend of Annie Palmer was a fitting story, as Rose Hall Developments was also Iana’s sponsor.
Uzuri says with this year’s costume, they never sought to glorify slavery or promote whichcraft, of which Palmer was accused.
The organization points out that at Miss Universe, national costumes can be whimsical and tongue in cheek, but always highlight an aspect of the country’s history or culture.
It says since they took over the local pageant in 2013, they’ve used the national costume as a strong cultural and historic reference point to educate young Jamaicans about our culture.
They say they hope these conversations can lead to teachable moments for young people who have no interest in history taught the traditional way.
They’re also calling for Jamaicans to be kinder, more tolerant and respectful, saying it’s unacceptable that Garcia has been so viciously attacked on social media for wearing the costume while representing Jamaica.
See full response here: