For the first time in pageant history, Miss USA, Miss America and Miss Teen USA are all black women. This historical moment was solidified Thursday evening (May 2, 2019), after Miss North Carolina, Cheslie Kryst, took home the appropriate title of Miss USA 2019. Her predecessor, Sarah Rose Summers, bestowed the crowning achievement upon the new reigning Miss USA.
Chelsie Kryst, Kaleigh Garris, and Nia Imani Franklin are the names of the three phenomenal black women that have garnered global attention at successfully acquiring these prestigious awards. Something truly indicative of a time for change, serving as a vital tool of inspiration for many. Kryst serves as “a full-time attorney that is licensed to practice law in two states” according to her Miss USA bio, while Franklin is a “classically trained opera singer and advocate for the arts” as stated in her
Miss America bio. Garris redefined the terminology behind the word “crowned” as she defiantly sported
natural-curls during her revolutionary victory.
As far back as the 1920’s, women of color were barred from participating in beauty pageants.
It wasn’t until about roughly 60 years later that Vanessa Williams (Miss America), Carole Gist (Miss USA) and Janel Bishop (Miss Teen USA) set the foundation for introducing the concept behind breaking barriers in beauty and changing this unwarranted narrative. These dignified women of color were the first to successfully acquire the referenced titles during past pageants.
This moment in history is an ode to the countless times women of color have been belittled in the telling of not being “good enough” or falling short in lieu of a problematic social norm that pervades self-expression. Representation is of such great importance in the world that we live in today. The resounding domino-effect accolades of this stature will have on the next generation is nothing short of well-deserved and (excuse my language), but it’s about damn time.