So I was home Saturday night, catching up on my laundry, when a friend from D.C. called to chat. She was watching the “2010 Miss America Pageant,” which I had forgotten was airing. So I tuned in, and we immediately began critiquing the contestants.
“Oooh, check out the bad weave on Miss so and so!”
“Did you catch the dance routine by Miss so and so? If that’s talent, then I could be Miss America.”
My friend and I discussed how out-of-fashion the pageant had become and how we lost interest over the years. I had stopped watching it after fellow-Mizzou grad Debbye Turner became Miss America in 1990. And my friend recalled the delight of two sistas winning back-to-back crowns in 2003 (Erika Harold) and 2004 (Ericka Dunlap). (Note that both of us are African-Americans so we take extra pride in these (seemingly frivolous) achievements.)
We were gabbing away when we noticed that Miss Virginia (who was wearing the most unfortunate sequined canary yellow mermaid gown that was so ill-fitting the girl could barely breathe in it, let alone walk in it) made the top seven! As the runners-up were named and the pool dwindled to three contestants, our anticipation grew. Could Miss Virginia win this thing? Then Mario “My Abs Are Too Sexy for This Tux” Lopez announced the 2010 Miss America: Miss Virginia. Caressa Cameron. A SISTA!
We yelled. We gushed. We (air) high-fived each other. Once we calmed down, my friend said goodbye so she could call her mother to yell and gush with her.
What a night. Not only was it a thrill to witness a woman of color win the crown, but it was heartening to know that since Vanessa Williams broke the color barrier as the first black Miss America in 1984 (despite a scandal forcing her to relinquish the crown to Suzette Charles, another African-American beauty queen) Miss America can be beautiful - and African-American - and no one bats an eye. We have overcome.