At first, I was not inclined to watch Vanessa Williams on Oprah's Master Class this past Sunday but I did anyway. I'm glad I did because it caused me to view her in a way I never considered. When she was crowned Miss America in 1984, I was a junior in high school. When she was explaining how she received negative feedback from some blacks, that caught my attention and kept my eyes glued to the screen.
She was already receiving harm and death threats from some whites who were against her winning as it was; but to receive criticism and cynicism from her own race, was another thing altogether. She mentioned how some blacks felt that the only reason why she won was because of her light skin and light eyes. They failed to pay attention to her talent and other attributes that contributed to her winning votes. I, on the other hand, didn't pay attention to her skin tone. I was just glad a black girl won a pageant that was dominated by white contestants.
When she was stripped of her crown in such a short time due to some nude photos of her that surfaced, I was like "Wow!" because in my opinion every time a black person get ahead, there is someone to pull the rug from under them. I appreciate Williams for appearing on Master Class (or Oprah for allowing her) as her ordeal currently teaches that in the entertainment industry, for every two people who like you, there will be four who do not.
The problem that Williams have is that of an ex-convict--one mistake will follow you the rest of your life. You can be rehabilitated or in her case overcome the obstacle but there are those who will not let you forget what you did. As this segment aired, I'm sure the people who oppose her believe that she was not deserving or worthy of this opportunity. News flash--her perseverance in spite of her critics led her to this honor!
I was also deeply touched by her admission of being molested by an older girl when she was only 10 years old. She was very candid and because of this, I hope she got the attention of a sexually abused girl, giving them the courage to tell. Williams may be a few years older than me but we came from the "Don't Tell" era when it came to things like sexual molestation. Most didn't tell because of fear of being punished or misunderstood. So thanks Ms. Williams--for clearing the otherwise polluted air.
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