For the first time ever, Black women hold the titles for Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss America, Miss International Queen and Miss Teen USA and Black folks across the diaspora have been celebrating this show of Black girl magic en masse.
Not only are Black women (of all shades)killing it in general, but non-ambiguous, dark-skinned natural haired black women. You know, the ones society deems the least attractive, more aggressive and overall less desirable.
These wins, which were felt and celebrated by so many of us represent a refusal to accept societies standards of beauty and quite frankly are us giving the proverbial F you to the entire hierarchy of women.
On the flip side, they also showcase how deep rooted antiblackness is and why these wins are needed. When Zozibini Tunzi was announced as the winner of Miss Universe, the reactions, were unsurprisingly full of negative comments from white people making overt and not so overt digs at her looks, her skin and generally being racist as hell.
Like I said, while these comments were full of the usual verbal vitriol, they were expected. Something that may have come as a surprise to some(it shouldn’t be a surprise but that’s neither here nor there), are the malicious attacks from other non-black POC.
Along with Zozibini, Madison Anderson-from Puerto Rico, joined her as the final two contestants in the Miss Universe pageant. Madison had an enormous amount of support (as she or anyone else should have) from fellow Puerto Ricans despite facing criticism from some for not being born in PR, not speaking spanish and for not going by her full name: Madison Anderson Berrios.
Upon learning of Zozibinis win, something interesting happened… political candidates, actors, citizens and television personalities from PR decided to express their racism in bold ways.
A Telemundo host, unhappy with Madisons loss and implying that Zozibini wasn’t attractive commented that the pageant is supposed to be about beauty and not intelligence.
A house of representative candidate compared her to Kobe Bryant.
An employee of the Department of Education for PR announced in jest that she was the cousin on Shaka Zulu.
Comments comparing her to roaches, likening her skin to feces and declarations about her masculinity ran rampant.
Nestled between comments going at her culture, her appearance, jokes about her hair and insinuations that she must have Aids because…Africa :-l – were questions like “why does it even matter what race she is?” and cries of “reverse racism” in response to Black excitement. Questions and comments that are either deliberately obtuse, woefully ignorant or a little bit of both.
So to answer the “why does race even matter?” question I’ll leave you with a quote from Zozibini herself:
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”