American Standard of Beauty
These days it seems every topic on the news is subject to racial scrutiny. Whether talking about judicial decisions or the actors selected for a movie, internet users debate about the implications of skin color in this tainted world. Deshauna Barber, the 5’10 District of Columbia representative, whom has recently been crowned Miss USA, is the latest public figure in the spotlight of racial tension. Only the 9th African American woman to ever win the crown, the stunning Mrs. Barber embodies the throne she has claimed. Deshuna showed poise, intelligence and beauty as she competed against the top women from across the nation. In addition to her stage presence, the new Miss USA, wowed judges as she articulated the advances that woman have made in this country, especially in regards to military service. As a graduate of Virginia State University College of Business, Mrs. Barber was apart of the ROTC program. First Lieutenant Deshauana Barber currently serves as an officer in the Army Reserve and as an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce. A question from the judges asked for her views on the criticism directed toward all combat roles being opened to women recently and a female presidential candidate. “We are just as tough as men,” Deshauna proudly answered, “As a commander of my unit, I'm powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States.”
The Georgia native is also the first military woman to grace the crown. Despite all of these qualifications, comments were made online questioning if the former Miss DC looked “American” enough to be Miss USA. As the judges narrowed the field down to two contestants. Deshuana in all her dark melanin rich glory, stood amongst the final two beside Miss Hawaii. Chelsea Hardin of Hawaii, an ethic beauty in her own right, is a much fairer skin representation of the melting pot known as America. As soon as the winner was announced, critics from the peanut gallery begin chiming in on social media feeds. Much of the negative comments were centered around the winner’s beauty compared to other contestants, especially the 1st runner up from Hawaii. Some highly polarizing comments went as far as to question her physical ability to represent the true America. In light of Donald Trump’s successful nomination, it should be no secret that many citizens in this country hold a Eurocentric sense of entitlement to a nation of which many of their families are not native. However, it is interesting that this perception lives so vibrant in a country surrounded by reminders of the multiculturalism embedded in the fabrics of U.S. history.
There were a lot of positive momentum behind Deshuana Barber’s victory as well. Her victory was praised by the brothers and sisters in her fraternity of service as well as her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. The hashtag #blackgirlmagic and #blackgirlsrock resurged, in a year that has included Viola Davis’ Emmy award and Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar, as hundreds of ebony women across the world embraced the newly crowned Miss USA. Mrs. Barber’s victory aids in the fight to break color barriers around the nation, as well colorism within her own culture. It is no secret that within the black community stigmas of shade still exist, and may be as prevalent as ever. Darker complexions have continuously been overshadowed in outcast internationally in the beauty and entertainment industry, even in productions by African American directors. It is unlikely we will ever fully appreciate the beautiful souls inside all of us, with little regard to their race, ethnicity, or culture. Yet, it is always a pleasure to see those socially constructed obstacles overcome, especially by one of our queens. There should be no doubt of Deshuna Barber’s victory she is a true American beauty and heroine.