2019: A year for black beauty Queens

By Hauwa Abubakar

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L-R Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, Miss World

The year 2019 went down perhaps, as the year in which black women dominated the world of beauty pageants.

The crowning of Miss Jamaica, Toni-Ann Singh as Miss World 2019 ended the historic pageant activities of 2019, making it the first time the titles for five top beauty contests were won by black women.

The other top four beauty queens of 2019 who are women of colour are; Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA 2019 Kaliegh Garris.

An excited Miss World, Toni-Ann Singh said at the end of the competition that she was “shocked….I had to take a moment to say they said Jamaica, they said Jamaica so that means you, that means get out there…”

Singh wrote on Twitter after her win, “To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world — please believe in yourself. Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a PURPOSE.”

Singh, 23, graduated from Florida State University with degrees in psychology and women’s studies and plans to attend medical school. 

Miss Universe, 2019

Miss Universe on the other hand, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned in the USA, just few days before the Miss World pageant held in London.

It was South Africa’s third win after their recent victory in 2017. Zozibini is the second native black African woman to be crowned Miss Universe since Leila Lopes of Angola was crowned in 2011.

Contestants from 90 countries and territories participated in this year’s Miss Universe competition. While over 111 contestants participated in the Miss World competition.

Not only did Miss Jamaica win, Miss Nigeria also made it to the top five. The first black native African (born and bred in Africa) and black woman to win Miss World was Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego, in the year 2001 .

Miss World 2019

Black women have won all five crowns at different times over the decades, but never have winners been all black at the same time.

At some point in history, these wins would have been impossible, as according to reports, pageants used to ban women of colour from competing.

Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst said in an interview with Good Morning America that people of colour literally had very slim chances of winning such competitions in the past. 

There was a time that we literally could not win. Like literally, the Miss America competition, banned black women from competing. The Miss Universe organisation did not crown a black Miss Universe until 1990. There was no space for us,” she said.

Miss USA 2019

Some of those contests date back to the 1920s, however, it is in the past 50 years that women of colour began to take part in such contests.

All five beauty queens have conveyed messages of empowering women and are working to make the world a better place for all irrespective of one’s race, colour or affiliation.

Singh, seeks to support women and plans to study medicine and become a doctor; Tunzi works to eliminate gender-based violence; Kryst is an attorney who wants to reform the U.S. justice system; Garris founded the disability-awareness group ‘We Are People 1st,’ and Franklin is an opera singer who works with the non-profit ‘Sing for Hope’ and advocates for the arts.

These wins are auspicious, as they come at a time in history when the campaign for natural beauty and black people’s rights is gaining more impetus.

These beautiful women carry a resounding message to love one’s skin no matter what the colour or shade is and to be proud of being black, wherever in the world you may be.