“We Are Here”
“We Are Here”
Pageants as Racial “Homeplaces” and Ethnic Combat Zones
Black campus queens have long invested in etiquette, middle-class proficiencies, and fashion to advance positive racial representations and identities, honor legacies, and counter white racism. Contestants in ethnic pageants commonly assert distinctive aspirations for beauty pageantry including the advancement of racially- and culturally-specific agendas that promote black colleges, the cultivation of community and racial solidarities, and the creation of restorative homeplaces, not simply self-advancement and personal mobility. By examining pageant rituals on historically black college campuses and black-only pageants on predominantly white campuses, this chapter includes a discussion of the oppositional possibilities of black pageants and the contradictions of representing cultural complexity and political agendas through beauty, fashion, and dance. It probes whether the beauty pageant format can be stretched to accommodate cultural and racial agendas without replicating gendered and classed hierarchies and whether or not such pageants allow for opportunities to subvert hegemonic racialized gendered codes and practices.
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