“I Was Called Tar Monkey”: Miss USA Deshauna Barber Was Bombarded With Hate After Win

October 10, 2016  |  

While we love to inform you of the young Black women having success in pageants in the States and abroad, and there have been quite a few as of late, the reality is that not everyone is ready for such progress. Therefore, those people will go out of their way to discredit such accomplishments in the harshest of ways. Just ask the current Miss USA, Deshauna Barber.

In an interview with The Huffington Post last week, the Army Reserve officer opened up about how important her win was for young Black girls. In the midst of doing so, Barber admitted that she used their excitement for her, along with the support of her family and followers, to stay positive. After winning the title in June, Barber was hit with a barrage of negativity by racists on social media.

“I faced a lot of backlash when I was crowned. I had no idea of the backlash I would face,” Barber said. “I don’t want to say I felt shielded because I was in the military, but I felt like the respect that I would be given because of the fact that I wear the uniform and I serve this country and so has my family, the sacrifices that we’ve made, I just knew that everyone would just be ‘whoo whoo’ and ‘We love Deshauna, she represents this country.’ And I have been positively received, but there’s been a lot of negative.”

Barber said she was called all kind of ugly things. Insults were so harsh she ended up second-guessing her beauty and doubted herself.

“I was called tar monkey and the n-word,” she said. “I had a lot of moments where people thought I was better off being Miss Africa USA versus Miss USA. And to me, it was very discouraging. I went from maybe 800 followers on Instagram to 30, 40,000 in less than two hours. I went from being someone just sitting in a cubicle being a government contractor and having my weekend in the military, to being kind of tossed in the spotlight. I had to really reevaluate how I feel emotionally about myself and the confidence I have. Because there are moments where I was like, ‘Man, am I really that ugly? Do people really feel like I don’t deserve to represent this crown?’ But there’s a lot of little black and brown girls that are looking up to me that are saying, ‘You know what? She looks like me.'”

With that in mind, Barber has gone on to speak to those same young girls to ensure that they feel supported. That includes speaking to girls during a recent panel discussion at The Steve Harvey Foundation’s Girls Who Rule The World camp. She reminded them, after reminding herself, that just because your skin is darker doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful and of worth.

“I really had to understand that I’m an American woman and I can be Miss USA,” Barber said. “Just because my skin is Black doesn’t mean I’m ugly. I really had to think about that long and hard. I thank my mom and my boyfriend and my siblings for being able to help my self-esteem raise. I had some really hard days the month and weeks after because of the amount of messages I was getting that were so negative and hurtful, and the amount of racism I faced. Just the social media part of it was so difficult. But I am so happy that I was really able to build my confidence and understand, ‘You know what? Deshauna, you are a queen. You have to stand up. You have to represent that.’ And I want to push and make other women that look like me understand that you are beautiful and that I’m glad I’m able to represent us.”

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