A Papua New Guinean beauty queen was racially insulted during a moment that should’ve been memorable for her in a good way. Over the weekend, 19-year old Leoshina Kariha had a racial insult hurled her way during a pageant on the South Pacific island of Tonga.
While participating in the Miss Heilala pageant on Friday, a member of the audience yelled out, “You’re black and ugly — disgusting.” According to reports, the comments came from the VIP section of the pageant and were allegedly made by a prominent Tongan politician.
It looks like Kariha took a page out of our forever First Lady’s book. In the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” In a Facebook post, she thanked the people of Tonga and said, “I will not let one comment from a single person destroy the very good relationship that the Kingdom of Tonga and my people of Papua New Guinea have,” she continued. “And there really should be no division amongst Melanesians, Polynesians and Micronesians; we should be one united Pacific.”
Kariha currently reigns as Miss Pacific Islands and Miss Papua New Guinea. Since earning her titles, she’s done work for her community. Earlier this year, UNICEF in Papua New Guinea appointed her their first ever Youth Advocate. She serves as an ambassador and advocate with other young people from all over the world. Her mission is to help raise awareness for children’s rights.
Since the embarrassing incident, Kariha has been met with an overwhelming amount of support. Her plea to be united rather than divided over one person’s ignorant comment speaks to her level of maturity. It is sad that in this day and age, people are still using black as an insult. I hope that seeing a black Miss America, Miss Teen USA and Miss USA inspires Kariha to keep going. With her beauty, intelligence, and attitude, she can become the next Miss Universe, inspiring black girls everywhere to take a stand against racism and colorism.