Singer/songwriter and former Miss America Vanessa Williams probably wasn't thinking that she was making Black History in 1983. The same goes for Debi Thomas, the first African American female to win a metal in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. None of us did, actually because we were focused on the fact that they are black and achieved a great accomplishment.
Unfortunately, Vanessa's past came back to haunt her. She was stripped of her crown due to some nude photos of her in Penthouse Magazine. Although these photos were taken prior to her winning the contest, the pageant association believed that it wasn't a good look. Whomever leaked these photos had an agenda to destroy her before she even got out of the starting gate. Their intentions were accomplished and Vanessa will always be remembered for this.
However, Vanessa didn't let that destroy her inner ambition. I'm sure she was hurt and even depressed for a while but she decided to keep it moving. Vanessa went on to having a singing/acting career and is still in the spotlight to this date. She has daughters of her own and I'm sure the advice she would give them is to make sure that your past is clean; it will surely come back to haunt you.
Ice skater Debi Thomas was the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympic Games in 1988. She too, probably wasn't thinking she was making Black History. Thomas retired from skating in 1992 to finish her education at Stanford University to become an orthopedic surgeon. Thomas had dropped out of the spotlight for while and if it wasn't for Iyanla Vanzant's "Fix My Life" program, I would have forgotten about her. Unfortunately, Thomas' life turned for the worst over the years. She had lost custody of her son and the husband she was with was an abusive alcoholic.
Thomas had succumbed into the depression of staying with her husband while living in a bed-bug infested trailer park home. I saw this segment on Iyanla's show and I immediately thought that she desperately needed some mental counseling. She had everything going for herself; a college degree from an ivy league school not to mention that she's a surgeon. Iyanla so desperately wanted to help her and I'm on the other side of the screen pulling for her to take the invitation.
Long story short, she took the advice but it was short lived. She decided to stay with her husband back in that filthy trailer park. What Thomas was going through I've seen so many women with low self esteem do--they defend the man, making excuses for his behavior and feel sorry for them. This is what happened to Thomas and it is a sad tragedy.
I hope these women can step back from the chaos and scandal that was presented to them. Whatever the turnout, they can best believe that they did in fact make Black History, something that can never be taken from them.
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