On January 3rd, I participated in the Miss Black NY pageant at the Helen Mills Theater. It was an interesting and different experience that I was totally unprepared for! I had focused solely on the song and speech. I really thought that those 2 things held the most weight. Turns out, I needed to practice my modeling skills and put more work in my clothing attire. I wore a dress that I thought could work as a gown, but was too short. The pageant said that there were no swimsuits allowed, so I wore a fully clothed Nike outfit, but all of the other girls wore clothes that bore their midrift. The girls also took a lot of time to model their clothes whereas I simply walked in and off stage. I couldn't even try to come up with a way to be creative with it. There were 7 other girls that participated in the pageant. Everyone did really well over all. I had family and friends that attended thankfully, so I still had some support. Another female ended up winning the pageant. She was well-prepared for the event. She had actually done pageants before and does motivational work for a living. She was also an older woman. Most of the girls had already done pageants before, so they knew what they were getting into. I had never participated in a pageant before. I never really even watched a pageant before. I honestly don't know what I was thinking, that I could just roll in there and make it happen like that on the spot. I knew about the speech and talent portion, but I didn't pay much attention to anything else.
I also wasnt practiced enough for the questions. Now granted, I couldn't prepare my answers in advance, but I am not used to answering questions on the spot. I am more of a quiet and introverted person and I need time to think about my responses. I was asked what part of NY would I take tourists and I immediately answered Brooklyn. Not that I know much about Brooklyn, or NY in general for that matter, but because I knew it is the borough with the most people and culturally, there are have been so many changes. But my answers probably came out disjointed and unclear. The next question was who is a good role model for young children, and naturally I said, "Barack Obama!" although I know, it's cliche. But still, enough can't be said about that man!
My song for the pageant was "Greatest Love of All" and my speech was about HIV prevention and awareness. The song turned out really well. I felt like I connected to the audience and even put more into the song than what I practiced. The speech was good too. I hadn't practiced it enough to the point of memorization, but once I was on stage, I actually spoke it from memory. The audience seemed to connect to the message. I was saying all of the facts about HIV infection and NY. Did you know that NYC has the highest rate of HIV infection in the US? NYC's rate of HIV infection is 3 times the national rate. HIV adversely affects the black community and the youth. 1 in 40 African Americans have HIV in NY. HIV infection is the leading cause of death for Black women aged 25-34 years. HIV infection is also the leading cause of death for young people. These statistics are appalling and scary! I truly believe that more has to be done for HIV prevention and awareness. I plan to continue to work with Lifebeat and other HIV activist groups to do more. I will keep you posted on the details!