People, look. If we want to use President Obama’s election as a measurement of racial progress in this country (which I admit is pretty laughable at this point of the game. Birther movement, anybody?), this has to cut both ways.
Simply put, if a white student wins a Homecoming crown at an HBCU, so be it:
Cultural history will be made tonight in a college town in southern Virginia when a lissome 22-year-old student in a tiara hosts a car show and singing contest modelled on American Idol. Nikole Churchill will look good, and on the evidence of the past few days will handle the microphone with aplomb.
However, she will have to be ready for hecklers. She is the first non-black Homecoming Queen in her university’s history and not everyone is happy that she won the title. Her victory this month triggered a beauty pageant walkout and veiled accusations of black racism from the aggrieved new Miss Hampton University. She also wrote a long public letter to President Obama, saying: “I feel as though you could relate to my situation.”
And some people are NOT happy.
From what I’ve read, much of the criticism stems from the fact that Ms. Churchill is a student at a satellite campus of Hampton U. That would certainly provide just cause in opposing Ms. Churchill’s win. Personally, I have never fully subscribed to the belief that students at satellite campuses should be affored equal opportunities in certain areas as those on a main campus. Students on satellite campuses are often the beneficiaries of lower tuition, more financial support, and lower admissions standards. So any expectation for a student at a satellite campus to be on par with the student on that institution’s main school (whether it’s for student football tickets, diplomas, or – yes – homecoming crowns) is farcical on its face. Eligibility for said opportunities from a college need to start and end with the student’s enrollment status at that college. On that, I would agree with the anybody not supportive of Churchill’s victory.
But to address the people who are making this about race – and I KNOW there are some out there – get over it. In a climate where we consistently witness attempts to de-legitimize our current President based on racist ideology (what’s up, Orly?!), how bad would it look it we did the same thing in this situation? Before I get people aroused unnecessarily, I certainly don’t think that most criticism of Obama – or, in this smaller case, Churchill – is primarily motivated by racism. But to dismiss the role of any racism is to display delusion of the worse kind. This notion applies to anybody; whether it’s a black man leading the free world or if it’s a white student winning an award at a predominately black college.
I suppose I should give Hampton University some credit. While I generally think pageants like this aren’t worth the cheap plastic tiara the queen gets to wear, I do think sending a message of diversity and multi-racial inclusion is always a good look; especially for HBCU’s. It’s just unfortunate the judges decided on a person who makes a suitable target for opposition; if for no other reason but because of where she is actually taking classes. Sadly, that justification – much like questions about a certain President’s citizenship status – allows opponents to conceal the real source of their antagonism. That’s where the real problem lies.
What say you?