The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Cat Mcshane Headshot

X Factor: Is Misha B Too Black to Win?

Posted: Updated:
MISHA B X FACTOR
Getty

This weekend is the semi-final of the X Factor, and while there's one contestant standing head and shoulders above the others, if I were a betting lady, I'd put money on Misha B being in the bottom two again. Britain, it seems, has a problem voting for the best act, and I'm calling it racist.

Misha B is the blackest contestant the competition has had, and the Britain that votes for X Factor is scared of black culture.

We've gone a bit David Starkey, who managed to write off the biggest civil uprising this country has seen for nearly 30 years, the summer riots, by blaming black culture. "The whites have become black," he croaked out on Newsnight in the aftermath. "A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion."

But Misha B seems to be proud of her heritage and acknowledges her musical influences, which are rooted in black culture. Witness her last week taking the ultimate white girl's party anthem Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, sticking a rap in the middle of it and using a choreography that nods to Rihanna's Rude Boy.

But while plenty of people around the UK were cheering Misha B on, they weren't the people picking up the phones, who voted through all-round nice girls Little Mix, inoffensive Liverpudlian Marcus Collins and reinstated teenager Amelia Lily. This left Manchester-born Misha B singing for survival for the third time out of the last four weeks, needing to be saved by the judges again.

As Gary Barlow stated back in mid-November, "Of all the contestants we have on this show, the first person any record producer would sign up is Misha B", and yet there she was in a sing-off with Janet Devlin, someone who had forgotten the words to her first song, and for weeks had the haunted look of someone with a severe stomach complaint.

There have been black female winners of the X Factor. Leona Lewis won over audiences with her incredible voice and shy personality in 2006, while Alexandra Burke pulled off that magical combination of being the act boys fancied and that other women wanted to be friends with in 2008. These were deserved winners, but they didn't upset the apple cart. They wore beautiful dresses, they sang ballads, they played the game and walked away with the prize.

But Misha B is too out there for the X Factor audience to vote for.

She's working class, confident, even cocky, drawing comparisons with Tina Turner, Grace Jones and Missy Elliot, some of the world's most powerful black women.

At a time when black and Asian women are still, and increasingly, bleaching their skin lighter, and celebrities like Beyonce get into trouble for straightening their hair and dyeing it blonde, Misha B, afro styled differently each week, is recognisably black.

Britain doesn't know what to do with her. Men can't look after her and women who would've warmed to her got put off when judges Tulisa and Louis announced she was a bully, which is ironic when you're destroying someone's chance at success live on television.

As Misha B commented this week, "I understand how people think and how as human beings they are heavily influenced by people's comments. Of course it is going to damage my chances of winning the show."

Apart from Burke and Lewis, none of the other (all white, all male) winners since the series started in 2004 have had any comparable success. Instead, runners-up, like One Direction or Olly Murs, have taken their year's spotlight. But will Misha B even make it to the final?

This week, there was an insight into what X Factor bosses think will happen. They replaced Misha B with newly reinstated contestant Amelia Lily at the end of the Marks and Spencer Christmas advert all the finalists appear in. And this Saturday's show is expected to include a sob story about teenage Amelia's severe diabetes, always a vote-winner.

If Sunday does see Misha B leave, the biggest loser will be us, for not being able to reward a truly amazing talent with the prize she deserves, and claim her for ourselves. But it won't be the worst thing in the world for her. It'll prove that hard work and talent is not always the key, and that hell is other people.

But let us be assured, this young lady has a big future, and when she no longer has to rely on appeasing bigots for votes, she can set about changing minds from a place of greater power.

Around the Web

'X Factor': Melanie Amaro Does Michael Jackson Justice

X Factor's Little Mix: we can't believe we've made it so far

Live at X Factor: Drew and Rachel Disagree With Simon Cowell! Plus, Who's ...

'X Factor': L.A. Reid Promises Contestant a Bentley If He Wins

X Factor's Gary Barlow 'S****ing' Himself Every Weekend Over Ratings

X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos used to carry a baseball bat for protection

The X Factor 2011 Top 7 Review: My Power Rankings Of The Top 7 Contestants

'X Factor' Parting Shots: LeRoy Bell A Class Act, Lakoda Rayne Needs Some ...

X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson has noticeably lighter skin in new promo shots

X Factor 2011: Janet Devlin insists she's nobody's puppet as she flies home to ...