As far as Cynthia asking me what year I won my title, it seemed pathetic. To add insult to injury she asked if I was “before or after Vanessa Williams.” Firstly, Vanessa Williams is a goddess in my eyes and a living icon. I’m not on her level yet, nor do I pretend to be. However, she is my role model -- kind, generous, smart, and a great person.
Secondly, whether you are Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, live in America or abroad, Vanessa Williams made history as the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America. That was a victory for brown women around the WORLD. Who didn’t cry when she cried? Who didn’t feel their hearts swell up with pride when her name was called? What brown woman didn’t feel validated or vindicated for all the years we had been told we were ugly, lesser than, or inferior to Western beauty? Regardless of how Cynthia may feel about me, it is heartless to try to knock down or diminish an accomplishment such as mine. Vanessa Williams opened the door for me and I graciously walked through it. I hope there are other young women that will walk through the door I opened for them in 1993 (19 years ago). There is a fight bigger than the one Cynthia is now picking with me. Yet, we still need to fight for fair representation.
Cynthia’s question that was meant as a “read” actually manages to put down Vanessa as a lack of recognition, myself, and an accomplishment of a people -- not of a single woman.