Let’s have a conversation: Uzuri Int’l defends controversial ‘Annie Palmer’ national costume

Iana Tickle Garcia, unveilling this year’s national costume for the 2019 Miss Universe competition, unknowingly walked into a tidal wave of backlash from her fellow Jamaicans (Photo: Instagram @OfficialMissUniverseJamaica)

Uzuri International, franchise holders for Miss Jamaica Universe, says it is surprised by the widespread condemnation of an Annie Palmer-themed national costume worn by current Miss Jamaica Iana Tickle Garcia.

Uzuri, having unveiled the signature costume on Friday, has raised many eyebrows and come under heavy scrutiny for “glorifying slavery” – much of which has been directed towards Garcia.

Another angle of Uzuri International’s controversial ‘White Witch of Rose Hall’ costume (Photo: Instagram @OfficialMissUniverseJamaica)

Rich history comes with dark moments

In its eyes, the decision of Annie Palmer was not a sleight of hand as Garcia is a resident of Montego Bay and the story of the Rose Hall Great House and the legend of the ‘White Witch’ is also part of the parish’s rich history.

In a statement on Facebook, Uzuri wrote, “With this year’s costume, we never sought to glorify slavery nor promote witchcraft or any of the folk tales Annie Palmer has been accused of, instead, what we sought to do, as have the pantomimes, books and articles written about her, was to tell the story of another part of Jamaican history without endorsing, glorifying or celebrating her deeds or the atrocities of slavery.”

Montego Bay’s very own Iana Tickle Garcia, Miss Universe Jamaica (Photo: Instagram @OfficialMissUniverseJamaica)

“This year, because the current title winner is from Montego Bay, the Miss Jamaica Universe Organisation chose to highlight a tourism icon and national treasure as the theme of the National Costume and decided that the Rose Hall Great House and its legend of Annie Palmer would be the fitting story,” Uzuri International added.

Franchise holders for Miss Jamaica Universe since 2013, the group said it has been disappointed by the vicious attacks on Garcia within the sphere of social media, despite the fact the 19-year-old is about to represent the country at the competition.

‘She’s representing all a wi, Jamaica’

“This is unacceptable. She is at a critical time in her young life when she has worked extremely hard at home and invested her time and efforts to represent an entire country and she is now facing gruelling rounds of competitive events, nonstop activities,” Uzuri retorted.

“[She] is deprived of sleep, away from friends and family and nowhere near a comfort zone and needs the support of the nation. But instead, she is being bashed, demonised and vilified,” the organisation continued.

Iana Tickle Garcia is being bashed for wearing an Annie Palmer-inspired costume (Photo: Instagram @OfficialMissUniverseJamaica)

On the flip side, while Uzuri International asks the public to end the attacks on Garcia, it is pleased the costume has sparked a conversation and hopes Jamaicans, “will now be motivated to engage in further research on the topic to have greater understanding of our past.”

“This is not the action of a civilised people and Iana does not deserve the abuse she has been receiving, so please let’s stop this and allow her to focus on competing and making us all proud as Jamaicans,” the statement ended.

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