Support 1st Black Homecoming Queen at Ole Miss

The Root's contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas, horrified by the conspiracy theories surrounding Courtney Roxanne Pearson's election, writes at Essence that we should support her in the face of the racism, colorism and size discrimination that her story has brought to light.

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olemissrebels575jdh
University of Mississippi

The Root's contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas, horrified by the conspiracy theories surrounding Courtney Roxanne Pearson's election, writes at Essence that we should support her in the face of the racism, colorism and size discrimination that her story has brought to light.

[L]ast week, the University of Mississippi  (a.k.a. "Ole Miss") announced its first Black homecoming queen, Courtney Roxanne Pearson, who won her crown on the 50th anniversary of the institution's controversial admission of James Meredith, the first African-American to attend the school ...

It never occurred to me that her election could be a joke. But that was the sentiment suggested in some places. Apparently Stormfront.org had said as much, and the theory was gaining traction. (I don't expect much more from a self-described "white nationalism" site.) But then I found the comments section on a story about Pearson on a fellow Black women's site, and several readers didn't find the hoax angle so far-fetched. Some said they were baffled by the outpouring of support for Pearson as it seemed her election was a clear and obvious joke because she doesn't meet "conventional" standards of beauty …

I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next woman, and given the history of racism at Ole Miss and Mississippi at large -- Nina Simone called out the state specifically in "Mississippi Goddam" for a reason -- I acknowledge that an elaborate hoax to shame Black women isn't as far-fetched as it would make me more comfortable to pretend it is. But without a confession from the organizing parties, I'm going to hope for the best, ignore the weird racism, colorism and size discrimination that Pearson's win evidently brings up for some, including some other Black women, and acknowledge her win as legit. She's a student who just achieved her childhood dream, and she doesn't deserve to be a jumping-off point for circular conversations -- like Gabrielle Douglas was -- about all the "-isms" that never get resolved within and outside of our community. I'm sending her my "Congratulations!" and that's it. I hope you can do the same.

Read Demetria L. Lucas' entire piece at Essence.

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