For those who missed it, Miss New York, Nia Imani Wilson, was crowned Miss America 2019 on Sunday. It should be no surprise why this is a big deal for us here at DDS, I mean look at her! To put it bluntly, Wilson has a combination of features that are rarely celebrated on black American women simultaneously - dark skin, a broad nose and a thin figure.
This is almost a repeat of Deshauna Barber, another dark skinned black woman, that won Miss USA in 2016. The one thing that was missing on both of these ladies at the time they were crowned in my opinion, is natural hair. But you know... baby steps.
The point is, both Franklin and Barber arguably have the facial phenotype of the average black American woman and they are being showcased as the epitome of beauty, femininity, intelligence and class. A beauty queen is far cry from the typical slave, warrior, jezebel, mammy and masculine archetypes that are generally designated for dark skinned black American women.
This kind of proper representation is exactly what is needed for dark women in black media as it will create a better narrative, more balance and most of all, a positive influence for younger generations of black women and girls. They need to know that they can aspire to be something different (and better) than the standard media depictions that have been set for them.
In a sea full of women like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Ella Mai, dark skinned black girls don't have many young, black female faces to identify with. While artists like SZA, H.E.R. and Nomani deserve mention, the bias, lopsided popularity and lack of recognition can't be ignored.
This is why it's necessary for black women to put our weight behind young, dark skinned female talent whenever they emerge from the shadows - the same energy you have on social media for Cardi B, should be used to elevate women like Franklin. You don't have to be into beauty pageants or agree with the organizations to recognize that this type of imagery benefits you. It's important for dark skinned black women to celebrate and share our wins in every way possible and not ignore the representation that we complain isn't there for us. Seize the moment!
Congratulations to Nia Franklin and all of the black beauty pageant winners and contestants past, present and future - DDS salutes you!
Watch Nia Franlklin become crowned as Miss America 2019 below: