To the Editor:
My name is Tiffany Thompson and I am Miss Black University of Central Oklahoma 2012. On July 4 I had the pleasure of participating in the Edmond LibertyFest Parade. I was honored to represent the University of Central Oklahoma in a parade that celebrates the independence of our great country and the heritage of Oklahoma.
However, there were moments that I felt the community wasn’t as excited to see me as I was to participate. While most of the parade attendees were welcoming, there were members from the crowd shouting comments such as, “Wow look! It’s a black one,” and “When did they start letting them in the parade?” A lady pointed at my car sign that read Miss Black UCO and then pointed at the car in front of me that read Miss UCO and sarcastically said, “So I guess she is supposed to be Miss White UCO?”
I am honestly disappointed at the response of some during the parade. But it also solidifies why it is still important to have pageants such as the Miss Black UCO pageant. The black pageant system started during the 1960s when blacks were not allowed to participate in the Miss American pageant system. The black pageant system was created to celebrate the history, talents, intelligence and beauty of African American women. It is a tradition that we still proudly participate in today.
I am fortunate to be a student at a university that truly understands what it means to celebrate diversity. It doesn’t mean that we place everyone in a box and force them into the same culture. A true celebration of diversity is recognizing that our country is made up of people with different backgrounds, histories, traditions and customs that we respect, celebrate and embrace.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” We can hope.