The Miss Black America Pageant
“Why is it still acceptable to have a Miss Black America pageant but not a Miss White America pageant?” – Kelly Trainer
For centuries American society judged black people inferior simply because of the color of skin. Black people were little more than beast of burden legally bought and sold on the slave market. The economy of the southern half of the United States was built on the backs of people who were enslaved and were forced to sacrifice their labor with absolutely no real compensation other than the substandard food, clothing, and shelter a slave owner felt compelled to offer. This arrangement allowed the white population to accumulate a huge advantage in the collection and distribution of wealth.
After America’s institutionalized slavery the dominant American race which was overwhelmingly composed of white people, felt justified in denying black people equal access to education and employment. While white children were granted an education in quality schools with quality educational materials black students at black schools were regularly given outdated materials if the board of education bothered to give them anything at all. Black schools were allowed to decay while white schools received all manners of investment. This arrangement allowed the white community to develop an educational advantage that would allow white people to be the superior candidate in an employment situation.
Irregardless of the educational and financial advantages of white people to their black counterparts, the dominant community was simply racist. America was developed with the notion that black people are not to live with white people, black people are not allowed to work with white people, black people were not allowed to learn with white people. Black people were not even allowed to use the sidewalk at the same time white people were on it. America was developed as a nation of racial disparity and racial separatism. In response to this environment, the black population had to develop its own institutions.
While white women were lining up and competing in their beauty pageants that did not allow black women to compete fairly, the black community responded with its own beauty pageant. The Miss America Beauty pageant existed for decades before it was able to allow a black woman to compete. And it was years later still before a black woman would actually win. The Miss America pageant didn’t have to call itself the Miss White America Beauty pageant. Everybody knew it was only for white women. In America, the dominant community had introduced and established a tradition of racial separation. The black community simply responded. And now the dominant community wants to eradicate these institutions and hold them up as examples of blacks imposing a condition of separatism on white people.
Black women had to earn the right to compete in the Miss America pageant. Imagine the number of black women who tried to compete in this competition that celebrates a European standard of beauty with features of hair texture and facial structure that has black women at a disadvantage. And yet, black women stepped up to the plate and jumped through the hoops to meet white people’s standards.
If white people think it is unfair for black people to have a black only contest for beauty then let white women learn to compete on the stage with black women like black women had to learn to compete on the stage with white women. How many white women want to compete in the Miss Black America pageant? Let white people learn to deal with the same level of animosity and hostility the first black beauty contestants had to face when they tried to compete with white women in an all white environment. And when white women don’t win after their first year, second year, tenth year, or twentieth year, white people need to remember how long it took for a black women to win their previously all white Miss America Pageant.
Some white people think it is unfair to be in their position of dominance and control and yet be excluded from the black institutions that were developed because of white exclusion. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It took a concerted effort over time by many black people who wanted to compete in white people’s world. It didn’t happen overnight. If white people want to compete in black people’s world then white people need to learn to make the sacrifice and the commitment to compete in the world black people created because white people wouldn’t allow us to compete in theirs.