In the News: Miss HU Sounds Off

By Melva N. Lloyd

Within the past year this country has seen its fair share of changes: changes in the White House, changes in the economy and for a brief moment a change in the plummeting housing market.  But even with a commander-in-chief whose entire campaign was based on the belief that the nation can break tradition, there still seems to be those individuals who have trouble rejecting monotony and embracing something new and different. 

This past Friday Hampton University, a historically black institution located in Hampton, Virginia, held its annual Miss Hampton University Pageant to give the opportunity for a new student to represent the school.  After a showcase of talents, ball gowns and bathing suits, the contestants received scores from a panel of judges and by the end of the evening a new Miss HU was crowned for the 2009-2010 school year.  Seems pretty straightforward for a college pageant right? Wrong.  Nikole Churchill took home top honors that night but her celebration was cut short when many of her fellow Hamptonians expressed disapproval over the choice that was made.  Unlike those that came before her, Churchill is not African-American, she is from Hawaii – Wahiawa to be exact.

Minutes after Churchill was selected to serve as Miss HU angry students took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to display their thoughts on the pageant.  Most could not believe that the panel of judges would allow such a thing to happen; a white girl wins the vote over a black girl at a “black” school?  Impossible.  Not to mention that Churchill is enrolled in Hampton’s much smaller Virignia Beach campus, but why should that even matter?  And while those disgruntled students overlooked the fact that they had nothing to do with the selection process, a hurt Churchill penned an open letter to her fellow Hawaiian, President Obama.  The newest Miss HU shared with the president that while this was the best night of her life, that didn’t drown out the whispers of dissatisfaction that was shared throughout the campus:

“…It would be much easier to say that possibly some were not accepting of the news because I wasn’t the most qualified contestant; however, the true reason for the disapproval was because of the color of my skin. I am not African American…”

As a recent graduate of HU myself I was upset to hear that the students I once shared a campus with took such offense to this harmless act.  Weren’t they the same people who participated in the election of a president who wanted to change the country that we live in?  Did they forget that Nikole Churchill went through the same application process and was accepted to Hampton just like they were?  Did they forget that as a student of the university Churchill has the right to participate in any of the events she chooses?  Or maybe they just don’t want to fathom the idea that a girl of Hawaiian descent was more qualified than the African-American contestant that she stood next to.  Maybe Nikole Churchill doesn’t look like the majority of the people on campus but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t hold the same values or views as most of her classmates. 

Before you write Nikole Churchill off, get to know her, it may sound cliché but you might actually have more in common with her than you think.  This is her moment and no one else’s; if our President has taught us anything it’s that we need to learn to go against the grain and break the tradition that has held us back for so long.  In order for Churchill to carry out her duties as Miss HU, she needs to first be accepted by her peers.  How can she attempt to relate to people who want nothing to do with her?  I challenge my fellow Hamptonians to leave their judgmental attitudes and ignorance behind and become more welcoming to modifications in the school’s rituals that can ultimately lead to progression and open new doors for future students.  In other words, let Nikole Churchill live…you can’t rewrite history, and that’s exactly what this pageant is.

To view Nikole Churchill’s entire letter to President Obama, please visit: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/bio/userletter/?letter_id=4066513461&content_dir=politicsol

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10 Comments

  1. First off, I don’t know why you came to Hampton but I came here because I was tired of being on the back burner at my white school. I had no chance at anything because I was HIGHLY outnumbered. I came here so that I wouldnt have to deal with yet another WHITE person being in the spotlight. I came here so I could get away from that for just little bit, then return to it later. STOP COMPARING THIS TO OBAMA BECAUS THERE IS NO COMPARISION! NONE! I’M SORRY BUT OUTSIDE OF HAMPTON SHE IS THE MAJORITY, SHE CAN DO WHAT SHE WANTS WITHOUT HAVING TO WORK AS HARD. I WAS HIGHLY OFFENDED SHE EVEN THOUGHT TO COMPARE HERSELF TO HIM. AND YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN AS WELL. HER PARENTS DIDNT SUFFER PERSECUTION FOR TWO HUNDRED YEARS IN THIS COUNTRY, THEY WEREN’T LYNCHED, THEY WEREN’T MOBBED, THEY HAD RIGHTS, THEY HAD WHAT THEY WANTED. WE DIDNT! SO YEAH I WANT A CAMPUS WHERE SHE DOESN’T HAVE A CHANCE. SO SHOOT ME.
    AND THE ONLY REASON SHE WAS CHOSEN IS BECAUSE VA IS RACIST SO BLACK GIRLS DONT HAVE CHANCES IN THE MISS VA PAGENT.
    LASTLY,
    I SAW HER AT THE GAME, I WAS IMPRESSED. BUT AFTER THIS LITTLE STUNT, SHE’S LOST MY RESPECT. SHE COULD HAVE HANDLED THINGS BETTER. LIKE TALKING WITH THE SCRIPT OR THE RADIO OR EVEN JUST WALKING AROUND CAMPUS (A PLACE SHE APPARENTLY CAME TO FOR THE FIRST TIME LAST WEEK). SO PLEASE THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.
    THANK-YOU

  2. I will start by saying that it was a true honor to witness a new face that represents the Hampton campus. Miss Hampton is a tradition that has been in existance for over 50 years and to actually witness the first Caucasian-student Queen of Hampton University shows a diverse campus with diverse attitudes.

    What bothers me is how we play the race card over a 1-year tenure position that does not effect the lives or the livlihood of the students nor the campus in general. Students will still be able to have visitation, still be able to play rap music in the Student Center from 12pm-2pm on the weekdays and the campus will still be a historically black university. NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE, so what’s the big deal?

    We have to get out of the attitude that everything has to be traditional and remain the same. Afterall, our generation has witnessed a massive change in this country that our ancestors did not get the opportunity to witness themselves. We have a Black president, we’ve had a Black Defense Secretary and a Black Secretary of State, who are well respected around the world. We should be prone to accept these faces of change as it symbolizes a new generation of Americans.

    Because we have seen the ill-mannered and disrespectful racist people who have given President Obama a lot of flack as he was campaigning, does not give us a reason to follow their footsteps. If we rant, and rave and fight for equality and opprtunity, why can’t we accept the changes ourselves in our own traditions? Because we witness some of our counter-parts do this should give us every reason not to follow the same social ills and beliefs they have. If we want race issues to change in this country, the change starts from within. We have to practice what we preach.

    Now, I will state that I think it was too far-fetched for Miss Hampton to go to the President of the United States on an issue that has not even nearly reached it’s height on the campus. At the most, you should contact the president of the university who can better handle campus-wide issues. I do hope that these negative comments won’t mentally deteriorate her as she is a Nursing student and her grades here at Hampton depends on her future endeavors.

    Overall, as a Class of 2010 graduate, I will be proud to be forever known that our class was the first class to elect the first minority Miss Hampton University. Congratulations to her!

  3. I would first like to say that she is FROM Hawaii, not Hawaiian. Any Black person from Japan that claims Asian would be shut down. Secondly, at an HBCU, why do we need to open up? If we continue to congratulate the non-Black students for achieving at our institutions, what does that tell us? Having a Black president in a historically racist country is not on the same level as having a White Miss Hampton representing us. She has nothing to prove, no barriers to break down. As Black people, we have so little positive areas that we can claim the majority of. Now we can’t even reign over an institution designed for us (…and the Native Americans). Would the Mormons let a Catholic rise to a position of power at BYU? Would the Jews at Yeshiva let a Muslim? And would people tell them that they need to be proud of their schools being diverse? I don’t believe so. Call me “racist” if you want, but I cannot give accolades to yet another White person showing us how she can do better than we can at our own game.

    • She is Hawaiian. Just like anyone from Virginia is a Virginian. I am from SC and I am a South Carolinian. Hawaiian is not a race. By the way, chack your history. The founder of Hampton University was white and from where? Hawaii. I am saddened to see us behave in the same racist manner as other majorities.

      • Actually, being from Hawaii does not qualify you to be Hawaiian, yet another reason why Hawaiians do not care for people from the “Main Land”. Hawaii has certain schools designated for true Hawaiians and they check your blood. You being born their does not mean you are. the US as always thinks they can change people’s religions, ethnicities, etc because they have claimed the land. Nikole is actually Italian and Guamanian. Just an FYI

  4. I think what has happened here is shocking. Nobody anticipated a white miss hampton. However, I don’t think that’s the core of the problem and the students are so filled with shock that they are unable to express themselves. While I can’t speak for the students at the University, I do feel that students feel that she does not represent them. Not because of color, but because she doesn’t share the same experiences as the students on main campus and she hasn’t participated in the activities on main campus. No one knows who she is, she just showed up. I believe if it was a white girl who people had seen on campus,in the student center,at a blood drive, at a football game or even in their classes, it wouldn’t be a problem. The reality seems to be that she hasn’t shared the “Hampton Experience.” So what happened is that a young lady who they never seen before at anything or involved in anything at their beloved “Home by the sea” doesn’t seem deserving of a crown. Its not because of race, I believe its merely a social matter. But because it was such a shock and with the letter being in the media, students have become angry and are responding in ways that do not represent Hampton University. I hope someone addresses the social matter and I hope this doesn’t get out of control.
    Coherently, I do think she went about this letter in the wrong way.

  5. What happened to the days of STUDENTS voting for Ms. Hampton? From what I understand the students lost voting rights years ago, which I think is an outrage! Students should be voting for the person THEY feel is best qualified to represent THEM! Then I hear that she was chosen because they felt she was the best qualified to run for Ms. Virginia. WHAT DOES MS. VIRGINIA HAVE TO DO WITH A COLLEGE CAMPUS QUEEN! She’s a campus queen first, and then if she chooses to run for Ms. Viriginia, that’s different and should not factor in when deciding on a campus queen. And what’s the other reason they feel she would be the best qualified to run for Ms. Virginia…..please, don’t make me say it!! Good ole Commonweath of Virginia, huh! I think voting rights need to be put back into the students hands. The total meaning of campus queen has been taken away, it should be kept at the college level. Who’s idea was this!

    Alumni – Hampton University

  6. It seems to me Hampton University is full of Kanye Wests. She won. Get your panties out of a bunch and move on people. If you didnt run, then you have no right to be upset. Hampton students have a history of bitching…yes bitching about the wrong issues. Grow some nads and voice your concerns to the administration. And not about Miss HU. Voice your concerns about your sub par learning environment, the lack of pro-student representation, the crappy dorm living…the shit that actually effects you.

    And take this familiar quote to heart please:

    //I have a dream that one day in the state of Alabama whose governors lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and girls will join hands with little white boys and girls and wlk together as sisters and brothers.//

    Adieu.

  7. Here’s the thing:

    HU is an HBCU. She’s white. Something is not right.
    While I didn’t attend an HBCU, my colleagues who chose to did so because they wanted to be an environment where they’re interests were represented; where they could, for once, feel what it was like to be the majority. A white woman winning Miss HU shatters that utopia.
    People are speaking of the diversity that this incident brings to HU, but from an outsider’s perspective, this type of diversity negates the reasons why anyone would want to attend an HBCU.

    But hey, that’s just my 2cents.

  8. Oh and that letter she wrote?
    If that’s any indication as to the level of her intellect or the caliber of her speech, then she probably didn’t deserve to win…that is, unless the other candidates were worse than that…which I find hard to believe. Jusr sayin.


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