We know our Black is Beautiful, and some of us may want to compete for a crown to prove it. For all the women out there who aspire to win a pageant (or be a pageant mother) it can be difficult for Black women to be chosen to represent their state much less their country. However, there are pageants geared specifically toward Black women such as Miss Black USA, Miss Black America and, now, there’s Miss Black United States!
With the alarming and still growing social, economic, and health disparities in the Black American community, one might think it’s too overwhelming to take on such an enormous responsibility of trying to overcome them. Fortunately, one young lady had the foresight to say, “There is still opportunity to reverse the negative trends impacting the Black American community. We shall continue to overcome.”
Four years ago, as President Obama embarked on his first year in the White House, Sonja McCord was working tirelessly to develop a pageant system that would serve as a social enterprise and an enrichment program – a program that would create a new generation of promising Black leaders. Her solution: the Miss Black United States Program.
Officially launched, the Miss Black United States Program is a cultural, enrichment program which seeks to provide social leadership, development, and charity through an institute of learning. “We are creating a new generation leaders who are problem solvers, accomplished, and polished, while servicing those who are in need. The concept is simple, empowering others while empowering ourselves,”says McCord. The program will train leaders and provide them with the support to achieve their educational, professional, artistic, and community ambitions.
Every year, 51 young women will be educated in advocacy, leadership, beauty, elegance, self-development, entrepreneurship, and fitness – the skills and qualities that make up the quintessential beauty queen. The program distinguishes itself from other pageants because it first provides the enrichment program via the Miss Black United States Program, second, the ability to showcase what they’ve learned via the Miss Black United States Pageant, and third, the resources to put those concepts into practice for an entire year during their reign as Miss Black United States or their respective state queen.
In 2013, the organization will inaugurate the first Miss Black United States National Pageant, culminating the conclusion of a rigorous enrichment program and celebrating the accomplishments of 51 innovative, experienced, and empowered leaders. Entry into the competition begins with an online competition launched July 22nd. The program is open to natural born females ages 20-35 who have at least 25% African lineage and identify themselves as Black American. Applications for the national preliminary competition are open through their official website and require a small fee of $150.
“The Miss Black United States Program exists not as a means to exclude non-African American citizens…”It is a cultural organization created to solve America’s most pressing problems that directly impact the Black American population. The program seeks to reverse negative trends, celebrate Black beauty, empower young leaders, and work to overcome social, health, and economic disparities in the Black American community. Simply stated, “…Tackling Black American issues and strengthening the Black American community will help reinvigorate America, overall. This is a new spirit of patriotism,” remarks Sonja McCord.
Of course pageants are sometimes looked down upon for allegedly objectifying women, but they’re more than a swimsuit competition. Pageants offer scholarships, lessons in poise and communication and generally can promote a positive self-esteem. Many pageant participants are positively impacted from their experience whether they win or not. A pageant for specifically for black women can be especially beneficial considering the affirmation of black beauty that may not happen in mainstream pageants. This Miss Black United States Program sounds great for young black women.
Considering the dearth of positive role models young black girls have to look up to via their television screens, it would be great if a pageant like this were televised during primetime like Miss USA and Miss America. I’d definitely watch it! Would you?
What do you think? Have you ever participated in pageants? Are you glad to hear about Miss Black United States?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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