The Black Miss USA Winners Demystified
Watching the Miss USA contest has not been tops on my list of shows to watch. I always root for the Black girl to win, when they get disqualified, I change the channel. My team lost. I might get excited if Miss California or Miss Texas(my home states) are in the running, but if they are blonde-I just turn the television OFF.
As Kenya Moore, the second Black Miss USA Winner in 1993, has gained popularity on the Real Housewives franchise, the Miss USA pageant has become more interesting.
Oh, you didn't know that Kenya Moore was NOT the first Black Miss USA? Well I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't either. So lets check the list of all of the Miss USA Winners who were in fact, Black. What I found were some very interesting what appear to be discrepancies. There are some Miss USA winners working on passing. #ClutchMyBlackPearls
Lets identify the Miss Black USA Winners!
The Very FIRST Black Miss USA winner was Carole Gist. She was crowned Miss USA in 1990 and then was the first runner up for Miss Universe. Miss Gist was also the first Miss USA from the state of Michigan. Carole Gist is now Carole Gist Stramler and she has nothing but GOOD things to say about Kenya Moore, the Miss
America USA who came right after her! So when talking about American Black firsts, lets please not forget this Black Beauty Queen!
The second Black Miss USA winner is currently the most well known and truth be told my favorite, Kenya Moore. She was crowned Miss USA in 1993 and has excelled in media since then producing and staring in many films. She is now a cast member on the hit Reality show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta and has a top-selling workout video. Oh yes, Kenya Moore is ALSO Gone with the Wind Fabulous!
Chelsi Smith Miss USA Winning Miss Universe
The third Black Miss USA winner is Chelsi Smith, she won in 1995. She was the first Miss USA to win the Miss Universe in 15 years. However, Chelsi was one of the first famous Black people to wave that "Biracial, not Black" flag. So she has been shunned by black media, and like "other" media does, it has basically ignored her.
If you look at the Miss USA pageant List of winners, Chelsi Smith's name is omitted, due to the fact that she won Miss Universe. Check the Record
The fourth Black Miss USA winner is Lynette Cole, crowned in 2000. She was the first woman from the state of Tennessee to win the Miss USA competition. Wikipedia notes Ms. Coles background as Puerto Rican, and that may be true. However, she is clearly Black. And from me she gets a SIDE-EYE!
The fifth Black Miss USA winner is Shauntay Hinton. This Mississippi native and Howard Alum is completely gorgeous, as the other Miss USA peagent winners have been, with a heavy and active media career.
The sixth Black Miss USA winner is Rachel Smith, crowned in 2007. This Miss USA IS Black, hailing from the State of Tennessee. There is a LOT of controversy about this because she could literally pass. But she does not. She is biracial, her lineage is Panamanian, and considers herself a "Black Girl." Many of the judges and pageant viewers did not know that she was Black, however we do come in ALL shades!
Crystle Stewart is the seventh Black Miss USA winner! She was crowned in 2008 and is currently an actress on the hit Tyler Perry television show, For Better or for Worse. This former Miss Texas is an Alumnus of University of Houston.
The Eighth and current Black Miss USA winner, Nana Merriwether, was crowned in 2012. Nana was the Miss USA runner up, but Olivia Culpo, who orginally won, went onto become Miss Universe! She easily picked up the Miss USA duties. This Duke University and UCLA Alum was the Miss Maryland USA, was born in South Africa and at the age of 27 has been the oldest Miss USA ever crowned!
You know that "Black Don't Crack" honey!
This is a very controversial list. But it is acurate. Chelsi Smith and Lynette Cole are on the "fringe of blackness." These women do not closely associate themselves as Black Women, but they do aknowledge that they are "Of Color." However, Rachel Smith, who could easily "pass," openly aknowledges and loves her Blackness.
The fact that so many of the Black Miss USA winners have been questionablely Black does not take away from their beauty. However, it does remind the rest of us Black Girls that being a definably Brown Beauty, with brown girl skin and brown girl features has not always been the most accepted standard of beauty. But the current Miss USA, Nana Merriwether, is completely brown and continues to encourage all of the beautiful brown girls who look up to her and can see their own beauty in her own.
Please be on the look-out for my upcoming Blog Post, Black "Miss USA" Winners Passing for White
The Complete List Nana Merriwether (2012) Crystle Stewart (2008) Rachel Smith (2007) Shauntay Hinton (2002) Lynette Cole (2000) Chelsi Smith (1995) Kenya Moore (1993) Carole Gist (1990)
Classily Yours, Sharelle D. Lowery Power Blogger | Author | Professional Speaker