Pageantry turned political this week when Miss Black America Ryann Richardson posted her endorsement for Pete Buttigieg as our next President, a first for the pageant industry. In what’s otherwise considered a taboo topic, not just in pageantry but also at the Thanksgiving table, Richardson decided to share her thoughts on who she believed should be next in line for the Oval Office.
Traditionally, contestants are encouraged to keep their political views to themselves or answer an onstage question very middle ground with no bias in a bipartisan-like manner. It’s always been considered not pageant like and separatism in fact if a titleholder expressed even what her party affiliation was because of the fear of alienating the opposing parties and not being able to reach everyone at appearances during her reign. There was fear of missing out on deals, contracts or butting heads with directors if a titleholder was too one sided in her thinking and expressed them in public her crown and sash.
In a first for this new 2020 era of the definition of who a titleholder is, she decided to not only express her views but officially go on record to endorse and encourage her followers to vote for Mayor Pete at the polls.
We reached out to Ryann about her decision and speaking to Pageants & Prosecco about her thought-piece, she said she felt it was important to add her voice in the 2020 election cycle conversation. Not simply because she is holding a national title but rather out of pure civic duty and what she explains is responsibility to her community, “You could argue that Miss Black America, because of it origins as an act of protest, does exist in a unique space in the ‘pageant world.'” She continues,
With 20K followers on IG for this TEDx Speaker & one of the youngest honorees on the Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America list, Richardson says it is ultimately irresponsible of her to sit out here voiceless “when I believe our community is facing a critical opportunity in this election.” Calling the move to speak up an important one to prevent anyone who’s listening from making the wrong decision at the polls.
In the op-ed she wrote for The Grio, Richardson talked about why she chose the millennial veteran, pointing to his honesty addressing his weak spots as the Mayor of South Bend, his leadership and intellect. Her endorsement might help Buttigieg’s campaign which is looking at dismal polling numbers among Black voters.
According to the lastest Washington Post/Ipsos poll, 21% of Black voters right now view Buttigieg as ‘unfavorable.’ The highest in the crowded Democratic nomination party, besides newly-entered billionaire Mike Bloomberg (25%). With the Iowa Democratic caucuses in just a few weeks, some fear he might not reach enough of these voters in time to nab this critical state for any of the 13 candidates. These Iowa caucus’ results are going to shed light on where they all stand in the Black community’s mind. On the other side, he does lead in Black votes 57-4 if it were up to them choosing between him or 45 for round 2.
“It’s fair to say my opinion may be an unpopular one … for now. It would surely be easier to keep my head down and not weigh in. But I’ve never been afraid to be first and I was raised to live in my truth.”Richardson for TheGrio.com
She wrote about how growing up in D.C. gave her a first hand look at the voting process as a kid visiting the election polls with her parents and watching each new President get sworn in every 4 years.
However as she grew up and the realities of oppression and her “double strike” as a woman first and then as a person of color (or vice versa) became real, she writes, “With each election, I intuitively knew how my country would move, even when it was counter to my own desires.”
It took courage for Richardson to share her political views and she admittedly said she was sick of seeing hatred being spewd out online and was considering “clock[ing] out on America for a while to preserve my own mental health.” Who wouldn’t blame her? Twitter is full of constant dialogue, discussions and the true thoughts of keyboard happy anonymous trolls just saying anything now a days.
“The attitudes of the basest corners of our society, once fodder for faceless Twitter trolls, are now promoted from verified accounts with names and Congressional seats and endorsements from the highest office in the land.”
What do you think about titleholders endorsing a candidate, whether local, state or national? You can read the full article here and comment your thoughts below.