"Battle of the complexions" contest causes controversy

5:32 PM, Feb 24, 2012   |    comments
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By Mike Rush

St. Louis (KSDK) - A local promotion company behind a beauty pageant called the "Battle of Complexions" is now apologizing. "Battle of the Complexions" seems to pit light-skinned African American women against dark-skinned African American women.

From a flashy YouTube video to a provocative poster, it's an advertising assault for the Friday night event. Light-skinned versus brown versus dark-skinned, says the ad. But to some, this battle is more about exploiting a bias they say already exists in the black community.

"I really think that it's offensive," said Camille Houston. "Some guys will say I don't like talking to dark-skinned girls or, you know, some girls will say I don't like talking to dark-skinned guys."

"I don't find it offensive but it's something that I would not participate in because I think there would be some sort of bias in that," said Judith Smith.

"Battle of the Complexions" is sponsored by African American promoters under the name Mack TV.

Nobody called NewsChannel 5 back, but someone with the company did send an e-mail stating in part, the contest is "NOT TO DEGRADE WOMEN OR DIVIDE SKIN COLORS... IT'S SIMPLY TO SEE WHICH COMPLEXION OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE REPRESENTS THE MOST."

The promoters also admitted they could have used a better choice of words.

"It raises the same sort of hair on the back of people's necks like me and some other folks," said Adolphus Pruitt, President of the St. Louis NAACP.

"Folks who buy into it, support it, feed into it, they're just assuring that using race, using the skin complexion of women, devaluating women and things of this nature is going to continue to happen because as long as people spend money to take advantage of it, somebody's going to use it as a promotional tool," said Pruitt.

The event is Friday night at a club in north St. Louis. The club's manager says although he just rents the space and doesn't organize the event, the younger generation they're catering to does not find this offensive. He said they wouldn't allow the event if they did.



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