Daphne Talks Being a Black Ballerina With Natural Hair in Allure Interview

dd.png

Daphne Lee, the reigning Miss Black USA opens up with Allure Magazine on being a black ballerina at a time when they still make headlines, as Eurocentric body standards and industry racism continue to pervade the stage today.  Read the full article here.

Union Freeholder Board Honors Miss Black USA

The Union County Freeholder Board tonight honored the 2017 Miss Black USA--Daphne Lee--a Rahway resident and 26-year-old professional ballerina.

l. to r.  Freeholder Vernell Wright, Miss Black USA and Rahway resident Daphne Lee, Freeholders Linda Carter and Bette Jane Kowalski.

l. to r.  Freeholder Vernell Wright, Miss Black USA and Rahway resident Daphne Lee, Freeholders Linda Carter and Bette Jane Kowalski.

Daphne Judges Miss National Alumni Hall of Fame Queens Competition

FullSizeRender (13).jpg

Daphne had the pleasure of Judging the final night competition of the National Alumni Hall of Fame Black Queens Competition in Atlanta.   The annual competition showcases the nation's most beautiful and intelligent HBCU College Queens.  At the end of the night, Crystal Brooks, Miss Fisk University won the coveted crown.  Daphne presented the winner with a pair of her custom ballet shoes.

Essential Read: Daphne Featured in The Lily

dd.png

Back in 1970, Harvard psychiatrist Chester Pierce coined the term “microaggression” to describe casual degradations toward people of color.

Today, the concept has broadened and includes other attributes of marginalized groups. Sexuality, body type, religion, class and education to name a few.

Daphne along with 7 other successful women from different walks of life talk about microaggressions they face. 

"8 women. 8 microaggressions. 8 'bullet wounds.'  How hidden biases do more than just sting.  Read here.

This Afro Latina is Making Major Moves: Yas Girl Yas!

20229099_1506750882720508_4688478400790040443_n.jpg

Leyanis Diaz, the reigning Miss Black Florida USA, Socialpreneur and Creator of the Major Marketplace is making major power moves.  

Major Marketplace is an online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them! They are for the majority by the majority; the 99%. In wanting to support more minority businesses like you, they built this platform so that they could bring more buyers to you! They curate local and international products made by passionate creators, priding themselves in bridging conscious buyers to minority businesses in a major way. Unlike other marketplaces, they are ethical, empowering and most of all, invested in you!

And for more major news:  Major Marketplace was selected for StartUPFIU 's third cohort! Check out @majormarketplace, for #minoritybusinesses and those who want to support them! They're looking for #vendors! Go to http://majormarketplace.pagedemo.co/ to apply!

Why does race always have to be an issue? Miss Black Illinois Breaks It Down

20915115_10155688884635956_7182236666571661500_n.jpg

Why does race always have to be an issue? Why must there be a Miss BLACK pageant? Why must you all have separate schools (HBCUs)? Isn't that exclusion or a form of racism in itself? Why can't you all just get over slavery, it happened so long ago?

Why? Because after my ancestors were brought over unwillingly to a foreign place, abused, attacked, stripped of their identity, split from their families, their descendants still struggled and continue to struggle with finding a place in America. Why? Because I see more black women in the media who are publicly exploited or playing to a certain overt narrative than professional, successful, Godly black women. Why? Because we must form diversity and inclusion positions in the workplace, our own organizations, schools, hubs because we were never meant to be included in the majority, and laws and policies are being created daily to keep us out. Why? Because the same way we fight for equal rights with women (feminism), the LGBTQ community, and more, people of color continue to not be provided the same opportunities day after day, after day, after day. Why? Because the color of my skin creates a form of rhetoric that exists to incite fear and say I'm not worthy, I'm less than, and I don't deserve the same success as you. Why? Because the ideologies of naziism are still embraced in 2017. Why? Because we experience modern day public lynchings to black bodies by those who are paid to protect the communities we live in. Why? Because the economy and Wall Street were never meant for us, so we fight and kill each other to try and survive in an economy from which we cannot benefit. Why? Because you try being a person of color for a day. Why? Because in 2017 we still have to say, "the first black president," "the first black senator of...," "the first black ballerina," "A black CEO". Why? Because we've reached a point in time where we must stop fluffing over race issues in America. Racism is real and it's an ideology that is rooted in hate. No matter how you try to put it, it's indefensible and a domestic form of terrorism for those who experience it.

Yes, I'm part of a BLACK pageant system because of these things. I've learned through this process to fully love me - my culture, my skin, my people, my natural curly black hair, the natural shape of my body. I will no longer conform to societal pressures that try to cause me to be something I am not and create self-hate. I felt myself being pulled in that direction to satisfy and be accepted by others, and it completely brought me out of my natural element. I've learned I can walk anywhere with my head held high, and not have to worry about if I am pleasing to you. Why? Because I was created in God's image, made to be pleasing unto Him. You are not my God, and I will no longer dim my light for your comfort. And I hope I can continue to inspire others to do the same by walking in their truth and light as they continue to go after their many dreams.

As I enter into this last day of competing for the @missblackusa 2017 title, I am more prepared than ever to walk into any room with my head held high knowing I'm deserving of the same opportunities and experiences just as any other person. I've been inspired to continue making strides through civic and social works in Chicago, my nation, and other international entities. I will go on to pursue a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University so that I can join the work of those who fight for the representation and welfare of people of color daily. I will continue in my commitments to teaching young brown girls and boys that there is more to life than what immediately surrounds them in their communities through my work as an arts and education advocate.

Miss Black Georgia Struts for Sickle Cell Awareness Month

21272846_10214339839874510_3563637454519595032_o.jpg

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month and we're here for all of it.  Shaunii Rawls, Miss Black Georgia USA 2017 is a Sickle Cell Warrior and the Creator of Strut for Sickle Cell Savannah.  Shaunii is on a mission and she's using her girl power to make a difference.  To keep up with Shaunii and learn more about this platform, email strutforsicklecell@gmail.com. 

Daphne's 1st Interview as Miss Black USA

interview.jpg

The newly crowned Miss Black USA Daphne Lee slayed her first interview after capturing the national crown with her predecessor Tonille Watkis.  The two beauties made a guest appearance on WJLA-ABC7 NewsChannel 8. The interview kicked off with Daphne and Tonille showing Hosts Adriana Hopkins, Kidd O'Shea and Larry Smith how to walk, wave and smile like Pageant girls.

Miss Black USA Announces The Empowerment Lipstick

Every day is National Lipstick Day at Miss Black USA.  We are proud to announce a new partnership with Lamik Beauty where beauty is revealed not applied.  Miss Black USA and Lamik Beauty launched the Empowerment Lipstick.  The new RED lipstick empowers women while supporting a good cause.  Proceeds from the sale each lipstick are donated to the Miss Black USA Scholarship Fund.

To date, Miss Black USA has awarded over $450,000 in scholarships to its participants. To purchase the empowerment lipstick, go to www.lamik-beauty.com.  


 

Judges Announced for Miss Black USA 2017

The finals night Judges for Miss Black USA 2017 have been selected.  In the hot seat, this year is Stevie Baggs Jr.  If this charming smile looks familiar, millions saw him as the Bachelor on WE-TVs Match Made in Heaven. Like our Miss Black USA Queens, this King is more than his good looks with a career as a three-time All-American linebacker, playing in both the NFL and CFL, for teams including the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Drawing from his experience in professional sports, Stevie Baggs Jr. has dedicated time in his career to empowering youth and adults as an impactful inspirational speaker. Stevie can be spotted on the big screens having worked alongside Will Smith in the movie "Focus." You will see him in the Ang Lee film "Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk". Recognized as the only athlete to play for eleven professional teams in ten years, nicknamed "Shakespeare", he continues to inspire and make plays off the field. In his bestselling book, "Greater than the Game," and now in the hot seat.

Joining Stevie is Ocielia Gibson, an award-winning young women’s specialist, speaker, author, and minister at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. She is the founder of More Than a Pretty Face International, a life-enrichment company which has impacted young women throughout the US and Kenya. Named an Unsung Hero by EBONY Magazine, Ocielia is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University and currently pursuing her Masters in Theological Studies at Southwestern Theological Seminary. In 2011, she became the first woman from Texas to be crowned Miss Black USA. Her first book, More Than Pretty: Defining Beauty Through the Lens of Scripture, is available in Christian bookstores nationwide, Amazon and at Ocielia.com.

 

Last, but not least is Dr. Myla Bennett.  Defying all odds, Dr. Myla Bennett has become one of the most sought after female plastic surgeons on the East Coast. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University Medical Center and has been featured in both national and international publications and networks including JET Magazine, NBC, Black Enterprise, Bravo Television Network, Radio One, WEtv, and much more. Dr. Myla Bennett is the owner of Ederra Bella Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa®, and the founder of both the Preserve Your Pretty® and Preserve Your Handsome™ brands. She has had the opportunity to work with celebrity and influential clients throughout her career and she will be in the hot seat.  Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.

Rhode Island Wins Talented Teen Crown

Angela Pierre-Louis, a 17-year-old Haitian-American shining star of the Y2K millennial generation was captured the 2017 Miss Black USA Talented Teen title and crown this weekend on July 1st.  Angela is the 1st teen ever to represent Rhode Island and grace the national Miss Black USA Talented Teen Pageant stage.  on July 1st, 2017. Her hard work, dedication, and soca infused martial arts/dance routine helped her secure the Miss Black USA Talented Teen title!

She was born in Providence, Rhode Island and is currently a National Honor Society Senior at St. Mary's Academy Bayview. During her free time, she volunteers at her church New Life Worship Center and participates in school clubs that aim to enhance the lives of others within her community.

Angela launched her personal platform, “Keeping it Key-lean”, to educate teens and young adults on personal care & hygiene to promote self-confidence.

In the future, Angela aspires to be the #1 dermatologist in the world. Her dream is to help others feel beautiful in their own skin!  For booking or media interviews email pr@missblackusa.org.

Other Finalists were
1st Runner Up - North Carolina's Kennedy Byrd
2nd Runner Up - Alabama's Kiesha Lee
3rd Runner Up - Arizona's Jasmine Marshall
4th Runner Up - Georgia's Madison McCoy

Miss Congeniality - Oregon's Skylar Pierce-Smith
Community Service - Oregon's Skylar Pierce-Smith
Jasmine Alexis Talent Award - North Carolina's Kennedy Byrd
Karen Arrington Legacy Award - Colorado's Taylor Parrish

Miss Black USA Partners with Custom Ethnic Doll Maker

It's only befitting that Miss Black USA, the nation's premier pageant for women of color partner with the Queen of Ethnic Doll-Making, Karen Byrd.  Miss Black USA is proud to announce this partnership to empower young girls of color to see themselves in dolls and Queens that look like them.

Miss Black USA CEO, Karen Arrington, an award-winning women's empowerment expert and global philanthropist, applauds Karen Byrd on the importance of instilling positive self-image our young girls through her ethnic doll collection featuring ethnic inspired hair styles

Karen Byrd is a mother, artist, natural hair enthusiast and business woman from California. In 2011, Karen created Natural Girls United, a one-woman business that gives makeovers to black Barbies by replacing their straight hair with natural styles, to have the look and feel of ethnic-inspired hair styles.

What started as a hobby has grown into a full-time business. Auburn dreads, charcoal twists, a honey-blonde 'fro — Karen makes them all! 

Karen has always understood the need for our young girls and women to have positive images of themselves because it impacts self-esteem, confidence, and how we feel about ourselves overall. Her hope is that her dolls will help others to recognize their beauty and find joy in having locs, braids, kinky hair, curls, waves and more. Karen is working hard to show everyone that our beauty is amazing and worth celebrating.

Her Natural Hair Dolls have been featured nationally and internationally on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show, The Steve Harvey Show, BET.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Clutch Magazine, Upscale Magazine and more, and on natural hair blogs in France, Spain, Germany, and Brazil. Karen is looking forward to continuing to inspire young women and growing her business.

As a child, I remember playing with dolls that were beautiful. But they never looked like me. Their hair, features and skin tones did not match mine.  I always wondered - if my Barbie doll is beautiful and it doesn’t look like me… does that mean that I am not pretty?  This is a question I struggled with through my childhood into early adulthood. Even though I had an amazing mom that always told me how beautiful I was, all the images around me in the media contradicted this message.  And seeing other young women in my community that did value their own beauty also did not help.

As an adult, while shopping with my own daughters, I was shocked to find that stores still did not have dolls that reflected the beauty of the ethnic community. There were a few dolls that would surface every now and again, but it was not very often.  On the average, a young girl of an ethnic cultural background could not go to just any store and find a doll that looks like her. This is something that needs to change. 

There has been a continuous problem in our community where we don’t seem to value our own beauty, history or heritage.  It is something that has been a problem for a very long time.  In articles, videos and news stories such as “Black Girls Want White Dolls”, “What a Doll Tells Us About Race”,  “Black Doll White Doll & A Girl Like Me” - it is apparent that this is something that affects many children and adults;  and that there is a need for positive community change. 

There is a need for our young girls to be able to have dolls that look like them.  It is something that affects their self-esteem and confidence, and how they few about themselves from an early age. There have been quite a few studies done (as noted above) that show that African American boys and girls often think of black dolls as bad and white dolls as good.  Of course, this is not something that the parent is teaching their child. So why are they getting these mixed messages about good and bad skin color or good and bad hair?  It all has to do with the images they see as they grow up. If a child is constantly looking at images, dolls, television, books and magazines - and only seeing beauty as something or someone with non-ethnic features and someone that has long straight hair - then they are going to assume that this is what beauty is. It is something that has hurt our young people for centuries. But each day we learn that it is important to show them and teach them that their beauty is indeed beautiful.

I have wanted to take on the project of customizing dolls hair, to have the look and feel of styles and textures of African American & Multi-Cultural (ethnic) women and girls, for a long time.  From this came the Natural Girls United project that has now turned into a business, and is something that I hope will help to bring a positive view of what ethnic beauty is.  

My goal is to have a doll line that ranges in skin tones from a light to dark complexions. I would like for there to be a variety of hair styles that represent the styles that can be seen in many ethnic cultures – Dreadlocks, Sisterloc’s, Loc’s, Afro’s, Braids, Twist, Cornrows, Curls and more.   The doll's features should also represent the girls and women from ethnic backgrounds.  Empowerment is a big driving force behind this line of dolls with customized hair.  Each doll will hopefully send a message of hope. It is a goal to have dolls that are doctors, artist, businesswomen, athletes, teachers and more.  A little girl should be able to look at their doll and say my doll looks like me and I want to be a doctor just like my doll when I grow up.  To learn more visit www.naturalgirlsunlimited.com.

On Newstands: Sophisticate's Black Hair Features Miss Black USA

The August issues of Sophisticate's Black Hair magazine, a leading national Black hair magazine for women of color, hits newsstands today!  The issues features, Tonille Watkis, the reigning Miss Black USA is several fire hair styles that make you want to book an appointment *stat* with your stylist.

ORS the official hair care partner of Miss Black USA 2017 coordinating the shoot and we can't say enough about their style gurus and super power products.

America's Got Talent Winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. to Co-Host

Over 100 sold out concerts across three continents, from Caesars Palace to the Apollo Theater and all points in between. A debut CD from a Grammy-winning producer that hit the top of the Billboard charts.  Performing duets with childhood heroes Patti Labelle and Glenn Leonard, the former lead vocalist from The Temptations. An international television audience of over 100 million touched by his amazing life story. And it all started in a very small town with a man who possessed a big dream and an even bigger voice.

When Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. showed up to audition for NBC TV’s America’s Got Talent in 2010, he was singing to pass the time while grinding out a living washing cars in his hometown of Logan, WV (population 3,000) and the only “nice” clothes he owned were the ones on his back: a pair of jeans, a modest button down striped shirt and jacket.

Fortunately, you don’t need a slick wardrobe to win America’s heart. You need talent and personality, and Landau has a great deal of both. Wowing the judges with his back story of homelessness and determination to succeed for his family, coupled with interpretations of classics from Cole Porter, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and others, Landau walked away with the million dollar grand prize in front of 14 million weekly viewers. According to show insiders, when all was said and done, Landau had won America’s Got Talent by the biggest vote total in the show’s history.

Tennessee Teen Wins 1st $5,000 Kennetra Searcy Scholarship for Girls

Kennetra Searcy, Ms. Black USA and The Miss Black USA Organization is pleased to announce the selection of Carlisha Mckenzie of Chatanooga, Tennessee as the 1st Winner of the Kennetra Searcy Scholarship for Girls.  The $5,000 award is open to high school seniors throughout the U.S. Carlisha is a senior at the only all girls STEM school in Tennessee, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy.  She has an intense passion for science and math.

Carlisha is the second oldest of three siblings.  She plans to major in Chemistry to become a forensic pathologist. She would like to become a forensic pathologist to make a difference by turning a tragedy into something positive, by saving lives and giving closure to families.

We wish to thank all of this year's applicants and wish them well as their pursue their academic pursuits.  Applications for 2018 will open on January 1st, 2018 at 7:00am EST.  

To date, the Miss Black USA Organization has awarded over $450,000 in scholarships and excited to partner with Kennetra Searcy to establish the Kennetra Searcy Scholarship for Girls.