That may not seem like anything unusual at first thought, but in reality it is a big deal. All of the other nine Homecoming Queen finalists were black, the five judges were black and traditionally black's have won the Homecoming Queen title.
(Image of Nikole Churchill as Homecoming Queen at Hampton University - All Rights Reserved)
After Ms. Churchill won she was heckled at a football game. The other Homecoming Queen losers were obviously less than thrilled and her selection as the Queen set off a firestorm of controversy.
Hampton University is located in southern Virginia and has a long history. Ms. Churchill felt that even though she won that no one was really all that happy about it and she felt reverse racial tension.
Her solution to her perceived feelings on racism? She wrote a letter to President Obama to tell him about being elected the first non-black homecoming queen. Why? Well Ms. Churchill is Hawaiian like the President and she felt that he was a kindred spirit because he is of mixed race with one white parent and one black.
She told the media “I feel as though you could relate to my situation. It would be much easier to say that possibly some were not accepting of the news because I wasn’t the most qualified contestant; however, the true reason for the disapproval was because of the color of my skin."
She also said "I am not African-American. Despite the unfortunate beliefs that some are saying I should not have won, I am desperately trying to focus on those who believe in me and support me and my goal to represent this beautiful, multicultural campus the very best way that I can.”
Her status as the first non-black homecoming queen also won her the nickname of Lil Obama. As a result of her nickname and her feelings of being out of place as the Homecoming Queen she invited President Obama to visit Hampton University to help spread some "aloha spirit" around the campus.
Did it happen? No. But what did happen is that a lot of people felt that she was showboating and trying to make a name for herself at the expense of the race card. Ms. Churchill claimed she wasn't complaining about being the first non-black homecoming queen but that she was trying to just get some response from Obama.
The student who performed a good Hawaaian hula in a pink and white swimsuit claimed she wanted to have a high media profile. Indeed she managed to create quite a bit of media attention which left a bad taste for many. Afterall, combine Obama with racial discrimination and you have poured gasoline onto the fire.
Ms. Churchill later apologized to the Hampton University community for writing the letter to President Obama due to all the lashback and hard feelings. However, a media storm raged, making a crisis out of a beauty queen and allowing anyone to promote their vested interests.
It's ironic how becoming a beauty queen could be so controversial and cause so much trouble. You know what they say, beauty has its price and it seems that Ms. Churchill and Hampton University all paid their price.
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