By Christine Okoro
The Black and Natural Beauty Pageant event took place on Saturday, June 17 and was hosted by former professional football player, Jay Barnett and TV Personality, Robin Beltran. The pageant featured a beautiful collective of phenomenal women of color who embraced their natural hair and beauty. The event highlighted women’s various talents such as dancing, poetry, and singing.
“The event was excellent! I’m so happy that we showcased girls from different age groups starting from toddlers all the way to grown women. I really appreciate the fact that the younger girls from 5 and up were able to understand the importance of their natural hair and beauty at such a young age. I went natural about 2 years ago so I’m grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful event,” said Robin Beltran.
Day Edwards, the founder of Black and Natural, understands the need for leaders who represent and advocate for Black women in the community and strive to paint a different and positive perception of our culture. She wants to promote self-esteem and awareness by embracing the African American roots while providing women of color a platform to educate, relate, and celebrate natural beauty, which is why she began the Black and Natural pageant.
“Just because you weren’t born into heirarchy, doesn’t mean you can’t create it, and that is exactly what happens at every Miss Black and Natural event and pageant,” Edwards said.
The event was more than just a pageant; it was a unique moment in history for black women to celebrate art, beauty, and the essence of our culture. It even provided a platform for black-owned businesses to show off their work, sell their products and attract potential clients. The vendors consisted of handmade jewelry businesses, natural hair care lines, painters, and much more.
“I feel motivated to elevate my business to a new level like never before. A lot of times it’s even harder for black-owned businesses to excel in today’s market place. But attending the Black and Natural pageant made me get in touch with my purpose and reminded me why I even started my business in the first place. So in the end, I feel empowered to have been selected to be a vendor for such an amazing event,” said the owner of Critty Creations.
Sierra West performed a powerful poem, “The Contract” and used popular rap song phrases and titles to show how rap has been formulated as a way to degrade women. West also emphasized the idea that rappers do not care about the well-being of the Black community and are doing whatever it takes to make money. Her poem ultimately concludes that rappers and the music they make are the real sellouts, and yet we still continue to feed into and listen to their music because it’s catchy and they’re famous. Overall, West performed her poem in a sarcastic and yet genuine way which made her underlying message even more powerful.
“It is extremely important for me to educate our youth and our people, but I understand that I had to do this strategically. My strategy in “The Contract” spoken word poem was to capture the audience by speaking on a topic that everyone can relate to,” West said.
In addition to her heartfelt performance, West was also crowned Miss 2017 Black and Natural. She believes her win will give her more opportunities to work harder to represent the Black community in a positive way and break the chain of the negative regression our community is facing within our own population.
“I am still in awe of being crowned 2017 Miss Black and Natural. It is a title and platform that I do not take for granted. I believe that I have been given the opportunity to represent the entire Black community, not just black and natural as I do not want to divide our people furthermore, and I plan to go full force with it,” added West.
As the pageant came to an end, the winners for the 2017 were announced. Here are the names of titles of the winners and people who contributed to the success of the Black and Natural pageant:
2017 Director: Kia Brooks
2017 Intern: Somai Fikes
2017 Red Carpet Host: Victoria Baynes Lopez
Tiny Miss Black and Natural: Eme Escalante
Little Miss Black and Natural: Layla Cain
Jr. Miss Black and Natural: Dayna Porter
Teen Miss Black and Natural: Jasmine Underwood
Miss 2017 Black and Natural: Texas Sierra West
Miss 2017 Black and Natural: Philadelphia Ariel Dowdy
Miss 2017 Black and Natural: New York Alicia Davis