News'Secrets Of Miss America' Episode Details Racist History

‘Secrets Of Miss America’ Episode Details Racist History

Rule No. 7 of the 1948 pageant contract for Miss America is one of the most controversial moments in the pageant’s long history:

“Contestant must be in good health and of the white race,” stated the document.
A recent episode of A&E’s Secrets of Miss America dissected this infamous bylaw many Black pageant winners still say impacts them in the modern age. Past winners of national and local pageants detailed their experiences with racist treatment and how the infamous rule held a dark cloud over the industry.

Nita Whitaker, Miss Louisiana 1984, shared how she was discriminated against and lost solely due to sentiments regarding her race. When Vanessa Williams made history as the first Black woman to become Miss America, her subsequent dismissal from the title due to a nude photo scandal felt like a warning to Whitaker. For her and countless other women, Williams’ dethroning proved that no matter how beautiful or intelligent, their Blackness would never fully grant them the crown.

“During my time competing at the local and the state level, I very much felt Rule No. 7 still existed but in a way that no one was talking about,” said Jackson, according to The Messenger. They were allowing Black winners, but only if they were palatable.[…] I unconsciously made myself into what I perceived beauty to be because of what I had seen win.”

Even after her win, her reign was fraught with issues that lacked consideration for Black women’s haircare, an inclusivity issue that plagues the organization.
To rectify these issues that many diverse Miss America winners have spoken out against, new rules have been added, including adding a person of color on every judging panel and a formal apology to Williams for the organization’s maltreatment of her.

Source: Black Enterprise


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