This Miss Hampton controversy has gotten entirely out of hand. But, being a news-chaser myself, I’m hooked.
Here’s the question: What is the big deal about having a white girl win the Miss Hampton beauty contest? After all, there is precedent for this type of non-white representation of a historically Black institution. For example, take Joshua Packwood who in 2008 became the first white Valedictorian of Morehouse College, a well-known and well-respected HBCU.
No one made a stink about THAT. People let that slide. In fact, the event was lauded as an achievement in the long struggle for multi-culturalism and equality. Oh, how the tables had turned, they said! A white boy, a minority among his university peers, had earned the highest academic honor his alma mater had to offer. He rose above the fray. An Obama in reverse!
And yet, here we are, a full year later, reacting in the exact OPPOSITE fashion towards Nikole Churchill, the white girl from Hawaii who managed to be crowned Miss Hampton University in the school’s annual beauty pageant.
Putting my opinion of beauty pageants in general aside, why has there been such an intense visceral reaction, specifically from women, about this? Word on the street is, it’s a slap in the face of all of her Black pageant-mates, each of whom also exhibited beauty, poise and intelligence. Moreover, (and here’s the pesky seed of controversy) they’re all BLACK! At a BLACK institution! Go figure. It seems that in this gnarly world of HBCU amateur beauty pageantry, being Black is an ultimate pre-requisite to winning the … plastic tiara.
Sure, there are no real rules prohibiting Ms. Churchill from entering but the prevailing opinion seems to be that letting her run is just so the Pageant board can appear welcoming of their non-Black fellow students. As one observer who attended a different HBCU said, “They should have just picked the girl they believed to be #2. Because SHE was Black.”
Hmm. This seems chock full of nuts, don’t it?
The biggest difference between the victories of Joshua Packwood at Morehouse and Nikole Churchill at Hampton, the two “subjugated minorities” on their respective campuses, seems to be the fact that Packwood’s success was based on empirical, objective data. It was his GPA, purely, that earned him the honor of becoming valedictorian. For Churchill, it was the subjective opinion of a panel of judges, that apparently ultimately decided she was the “fairest of them all.” Pun TOTALLY intended.
So what do you think? Is it racist to feel a white girl shouldn’t win a beauty pageant at an HBCU simply because she isn’t Black? In that case, should HBCU’s be admitting non-Black students at all? Where do we draw the line here?
Also, why the hell are colleges and universities even HOSTING these events? This is high-school-grade one-upmanship at its finest. These HBCUs began as institutions meant to uplift and empower African-Americans with a quality education, as many of the most astute BP members pointed out. So why are events such as these so huge? How do they become so politically charged? Why don’t HBCUs feel empowered and PROUD that the quality of the education they provide has attracted people from every walk of life, every race? That somehow, over the course of time, these historically Black institutions are no longer relegated to the fringe of prestigious American education; that they are now counted among the most competitive institutions in our nation and that they produce some of the most sought-after talent. Shouldn’t they be cheering and jumping for joy that they have become the beacons of diversity and opportunity that they originally sought to be?
The race card, while often played brilliantly and with good reason, in this case seems to fall short. This whole Miss Hampton controversy really reverses the camera lens and focuses it right back onto the community of nay-sayers who have to confront their OWN racial biases.
Just because you have been historically subjugated and now attend a historically Black college or university that celebrates your particular history, does not entitle you to REPEAT said history.
So to answer the above posed question: Is it racist to hate on the white Miss Hampton? It sure as hell is.