It was the quintessential “rooting for everbody Black” moment that was seen, felt and celebrated around the world.
Over the weekend, while waiting to see who would be crowned Miss World, each finalist —Miss Jamaica, Miss Brazil, and Miss Nigeria—clasped each others’ hands, looking anxious AF to see whose name would be called.
“Jamaica,” the announcer said, booming into the microphone.
Yes, that moment was historic, because by Toni-Ann Singh winning that night for the first time in history, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss World were all Black women. But this right here was more than just breaking barriers.
It was Miss Nigeria’s reaction to seeing her sista win the crown that got the Internet a buzz. See, Nyekachi Douglas was beyond excited!
For a second there, I thought maybe Douglas forgot what country she was from and thought they said her name instead, but it was clear that her jubilation was about her genuine happiness in hearing Singh’s name.
Honestly, this #BlackGirlMagic and utter joy was a beautiful thing to witness, especially given that we live in a cynical world that praises folks for accumulating haters and loves to pin Black girls( in traditionally white spaces) against one another. But on that stage, there was no pettiness or jealousy. It was all love…and it gave me all the feels.
It also reminded me of the 2015 Primetime Emmys when Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) and Taraji P. Henson (Empire) were both nominated in the same category for Lead Actress In A Drama Series. While Oscar-winner Adrian Brody ended up calling Viola’s name, Taraji couldn’t have been happier and more proud of her friend.
Like the Miss World moment, that night also wasn’t about a competition or a taking home a trophy for bragging rights, it was about making history.
See, that night was the first time that a Black woman had won in this category. Ever.
Afterward, Taraji went on the Ellen Degeneres Show to explain how that moment was bigger than the both of them.
“It was bittersweet, you know what I mean? Because we all want to make history and be important to society and everything. Then I thought about it. I was like, ‘It’s 2015, and we have a black president and no black woman has ever won.’ Like, ‘This is weird,’” Henson began.
“So when I went into it and I knew I was being nominated alongside of Viola, I just thought to myself, ‘God just please give it to one of us, so we will never have to say that again.’ Ya know, let’s just break this barrier down and keep on pushing.”
That’s it right there. Let’s break down these barriers and keep on pushing, together.
Often times, as Black women, we can lose sight of the fact that when one of us wins, we all win. That with every mountain a sista climbs and every door she kicks open sets all of us up to win down the road. A singular success can inspire us collectively to work harder in our prospective fields. I know for me, it has that exact effect.
Gone are the days of seething at other Black women’s shine or being afraid to log onto Twitter because I don’t want to compare myself to others or feel about what I haven’t done yet. Now, when I see a fellow journalist win an award or write that piece that went viral or get that book deal, I revel in their accomplishments. When I see another director or screenwriter get into that Sundance Lab or direct that episode of Queen Sugar or get that first-look deal with a studio, it serves as a sense of pride, but also puts a fire under my ass to get my own work done so I can follow in their footsteps.
Most importantly, I can cheer someone on, for them and for myself because I understand that in order to be it, we have to see it. And because we just saw a sista do it, we know we can do it too, but that starts with us. Because as much as we swear we need friends like Miss Nigeria in our lives, we also have to make sure we can put our own egos and disappointments aside to be a Miss Nigeria for another successful sista who needs that same validation, love, and support.