WILMINGTON, Del. The winner of the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware contest has been stripped of her crown over concerns that she is not Hispanic.
The News Journal of Wilmington reported Saturday that 7-year-old Jakiya McKoy lost the title two weeks ago.
Some critics of the decision say the move was made because McKoy is black and not Latina enough, though organizers say it had nothing to do with race.
"There is just like a baseline of disrespect to black women," Daniel Jose Older, who started a Change.org petition, told the newspaper. "As Latinos, it's really important that we understand what's going on with us and that we reclaim this girl as our sister.
Pageant organizers require contestants to be at least 25 percent Hispanic.
Maria Perez, president of Nuestras Raices (Our Roots), who operates the Miss Chiquita Delaware pageant, says the verification that the child brought did "not specify she was 25 percent Hispanic or Hispanic at all."
She was still allowed to participate in the pageant, but parents of at least two other participants said they heard from McKoy or through their children that the girl said she was not Hispanic.
"It's not about the skin color. It's not about anything else like that, because as you know, Latinos come in all sizes, flavors and colors. We all know that," Perez said. "We've had a Dominican Miss Hispanic Delaware before, we've had a Mexican Miss Hispanic Delaware before, we've had a French-Mexican, we've had a Puerto Rican. You name it, we've had it all."
Perez said McKoy will be given the crown if she can prove that she is 25 percent Hispanic.
Older said McKoy's grandmother was born in the Dominican Republic and lived illegally in the United States before she died. He said she therefore didn't have proof of where she came from.
The child and her father live in Wilmington.