Former Miss Michigan Kathy Zhu grabbed headlines last week when the Miss World America organization stripped her of her crown for tweets they deemed “offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate.” The primary tweets the organization found fault with, both of which have been deleted, addressed statistical black-on-black violence and Zhu’s frustration with the “try a hijab” booth on her college campus at the University of Michigan. In Zhu’s opinion, the booth inappropriately turned a religious vestment (which women are forced to wear in certain Muslin-majority countries) into a “fashion accessory.” Zhu has stood by both tweets, saying that neither was meant to offend, only to share meaningful statistics and facts.
The beauty pageant organizers should have already known Zhu held conservative views – her position as the vice president of her school’s College Republicans was never concealed. However, instead of trying to understand her stance on political issues, the state director for Miss World America Michigan, Laurie DeJack, told Zhu flat-out that she was no longer welcome to represent Michigan. As an Asian American, Zhu attributes some of the backlash she received from the organization to her minority status. “I feel the left has a hard time understanding that minorities can be conservatives, too,” she told Fox News. Zhu has also expressed the difficulties she has faced from fellow students on campus, many of whom have only seen headlines in the news. Ironically, she says, many of the same people who criticize her for insensitivity have used highly insensitive attacks against her, including racial slurs.
However, amidst the fallout with the pageant organizers and certain fellow students, Zhu has found a great deal of support from conservatives near and far. Both in spite of and because of the controversy, Zhu has remained very positive after the initial shock of losing the title. On Friday morning, Zhu tweeted to her followers: “I woke up this morning with an overwhelming amount of support; I can’t thank you all enough. I am glad this story came to light because this is more than just some beauty pageant, this is about the prejudice views against people with ‘different opinions’.” Later that day she also told Twitter that she plans to take no legal action against the Miss World America organization – “When they go low, we go high.”
Ruth Moreno is a contributor to TheRichValdes.com