Miss Amerikkka

racist flow chart

Just when you think things can’t get any dumber they go and prove you wrong. From The Ugly Side of the Southern Belle by Blain Roberts of CSU Fresno as published in the NYT:

From 1921, when the contest began in Atlantic City, through World War II, only one woman representing a former Confederate state won the competition. Then, beginning in 1947, when a woman from Memphis earned the top honor, the fortunes of Southern contestants rose precipitously. From 1950 to 1963, seven southerners were crowned (each served the following year), including back-to-back wins by Mississippians in 1958 and 1959 — though southerners made up only one-fifth of the possible winners.

These were, of course, the years when black Southerners opened a full-scale campaign against Jim Crow, prompting a bitter backlash by white Southerners. White resistance began in earnest in 1954, when the Supreme Court issued Brown v. Board of Education, its decision to desegregate public schools.

This wasn’t a coincidence. Images of white Southerners spitting on black students, and news of white lynch mobs killing children like Emmett Till, shocked the world. Other whites, many of them pro-segregation themselves but fearful of the national reaction brought on by anti-civil rights violence, understood that Southern beauty queens could serve as persuasive public relations agents, a genteel veneer to cover up the region’s unsavory behavior.

It is impossible to overstate the effect of the positive press both Miss Americas from Mississippi, Mary Ann Mobley and Lynda Mead, garnered for their state. An editor of a small-town Mississippi newspaper came to this conclusion during a 1959 trip to New York City, where an acquaintance told him that the state’s first Miss America was “worth millions in good value to Mississippi.”

At times, this good-will campaign sounded more like outright defiance. On a homecoming tour to Jackson, Miss., Ms. Mead announced that she had never apologized for her state. “And I won’t,” she insisted. “We have nothing to apologize for.”

Southern Miss Americas also symbolized what was at stake in the battle over desegregation: the possibility of interracial sex. Their scantily clad bodies splashed across newspapers nationwide, young white women were the Southerners who would supposedly suffer most if schools were integrated. They would become vulnerable to black men in other public facilities as well, especially swimming pools. Indeed, precisely because they were “more sensitive than schools,” a judge upheld the segregation of Baltimore’s municipal pools in 1954.

The Southern Miss Americas of the 1950s and ’60s embodied the Southern “way of life” and justified its defense, however strident. “The winner always carries the ideals of her city and state throughout the world,” Miss South Carolina, Marian McKnight, announced during the 1956 finals (she won the crown). She added that those of her home state were “the finest ideals there are.”

It makes sense that white Southerners would celebrate these ideals, but the rest of the nation was also complicit in the South’s Miss America reign. After all, the region’s strong showing at the pageant post-Brown coincided with the contest’s television debut, and during much of this period, the Miss America Pageant annually rated as the first- or second-most-popular show on television. In the national racial tumult of the 1950s and ’60s, it’s likely that Americans in California and Illinois were happy to see pretty white faces on their TV screens, too.

There is one important piece of evidence that is missing here – a causal link. Correlation is not causation and there is no evidence presented to show that the Miss America contests were rigged.

If Dr. Roberts had found a link this story would be a blockbuster. Without one it’s a big steaming pile of nothingburger.


About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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18 Responses to Miss Amerikkka

  1. angienc (D) says:

    That’s idiotic — I’ll tell you what happened & I don’t even have to research it. Pageants are won by the contestant who is the BEST PREPARED. As the Miss America pageant gained prestige (with better prizes, etc) instead of just being a bathing beauty kind of thing that was merely ONE of several events going on in Atlantic City that day & with former participants launching successful modeling careers, etc., an entire “pageant industry” started to form around it & people started taking it more seriously, with more women competing, etc. Southerners — besides being naturally more attractive than Yankees — started winning it more once they started *trying* to win it instead of looking at it as some 2-bit NJ bathing suit competition/lark.

    It’s just like Venezuela with the Miss Universe pageant — they take winning that title seriously in Venezuela & they not only hold tough competitions to select their title holder, once she is selected as Miss Venezuela she gets whatever she needs by way of lessons, clothing, make up (rumors even of surgery) paid for by the Venezuelan government prior to competing in the Miss Universe pageant. As a result, in the last 30 years with between 75 to 89 countries sending representatives, Venezuela has not only almost always sent contestants who place in the top 10, they’ve had 6 winners (2 back to back wins in 2008 & 2009).

    • myiq2xu says:

      There you go using common sense and facts again.

      • angienc (D) says:

        Not as exciting as a conspiracy theory though.

        That’s really what happens with ALL competitions — higher stakes competition = more people participating/stronger competition and that’s when the little details start making the difference between winning & losing. With athletics those differences are say 10ths of a second in a relay race; with beauty pageants it’s the “finesse.” Ever notice how movie stars/celebrities seem PRETTIER once they’ve been famous for a while? That’s because they get “finessed” — better hair, better make up, better clothing, lighting & photographers, not to mention all their time spent exercising & getting massages & facials instead of waiting tables to pay for rent & acting lessons. Same kind of thing in the pageant world — all the women competing at the higher levels are *pretty* — it’s the ones with the extra polish/prep who win.

        BTW — the USA almost always has a contestant in the top 10 at the Miss Universe pageants too because, of course, we take the pageant seriously (especially since an American company started it — Catalina Swimwear), but we’re much bigger than Venezuela and in the 60 years that the pageant has been going on, the USA has only had 7 winners compared to Venezuela’s 6 in the last 30.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Yep, and it’s still that way. Pageants are serious business in the south. Especially in states like Texas and a few others. And there are cultural elements in the south including things like being the bell of the ball.

      Nope, there is an extremely simple explanation, that I think anyone who watches these pageants already knows. And there have even been lots and lots of shows talking about the history and culture around pageants.

      Blain and the NYT are rather pathetic here, and their agenda is showing.

  2. HELENK says:

    as a little girl I would go with my aunt who lived in Atlantic City to watch the Miss America parade on the boardwalk. I honestly do not remember anyone talking about the area that the contestants came from. The talk was about beauty and how she would represent ALL of America to the world. Of course everyone wanted the girl from their state to win. That is only natural.

  3. Simofish says:

    When Angie speaks…….I listen

  4. 49erDweet says:

    Back in the dark ages when the young ladies began speaking on television [before TV they were only in short “News of the Day” newsreel clips in movie theaters, not on the radio] the pleasing, mellifluous speaking voice of a southern belle contrasted sharply with the nasally accent of many east coast damsels. That alone was worth 10 extra points, and when the rest of the factors mentioned above were added in it was no contest.
    Blain Roberts will have to invent other “facts” to support his prejudices, because this pig don’t fly.

  5. Lulu says:

    There is the sneering elitist quality that one sees in all of the Prog’s “research”. There is some data that is glaringly left out. The economic circumstances that many beauty contestants are in when they compete. How many rich girls do this? As already mentioned it takes work and preparation to win. They also get scholarships and prizes. One of my cousins was Miss Houston. She was a runner-up for Miss Texas. Her father was died when she was 13. She had no money to go to college. Her mother made her clothes. She went to college and then assisted her younger sisters through school. She was brave, hard working and beautiful. Forty years later she still is.

  6. yttik says:

    The “ugly side of the southern belle??” Isn’t that just so typical, try to blame Jim Crow, segregation, on….young girls competing in a pageant. I guess you have to blame those with very little power, otherwise you’d have to mention MEN, Democrats even, who ran the politics and then if you’re going to be honest, things get messy. You’ve got to explain why Dems kept former Klan members in their ranks, why JFK first voted against civil rights, why life is not a simple case of good Northern Democrats versus racist Southern Republicans.

  7. conner43 says:

    amen yttik…
    Having had the good fortune to know and have 20 plus years of bonds with sophisticated women of color, they all considered themselves mainstream people, and thought the thugs and welfare queens were ‘other’.. They mostly stayed married to their husbands at the same ratio as the rest of us, and insisted on their children going to college.
    They were sharper dressers and better cooks than the rest of the staff put together, also funnier.
    In some elite circles, they might have been considered racist, or the old canard ‘not black enough’.. Not much of a reward for working hard, going to church, and taking care of their kids..
    The less skilled minority workers were not overly friendly to them.

    It seems there are tiers and cliques in all tribes.

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