The 2017 Miss USA pageant happened a lot earlier this year than the previous one in 2016. Still, a lot of things were somewhat the same as before. To be precise, this year’s winner is also African-American, and also from Washington DC. Kara McCullough had made a harmless joke prior to the competition wherein she hoped to win and thus give her hometown of the District Of Columbia “back to back titles”. Never in her wildest dreams perhaps could she have ever imagined that her silly announcement would become a prophecy, with McCullough winning Miss USA 2017 and receiving her crown from her predecessor and fellow DC girl Deshauna Barber.

Black girl magic in the pageant

The Miss USA pageant, which is under the overall Miss Universe Organization umbrella, has come a long way indeed years after breaking away from its former ownership under now-President Donald Trump. Now a lot of focus is being diverted from the contestants’ good to their diverse backgrounds. Interestingly, of this year’s top five - Minnesota, Illinois, South Carolina, New Jersey and District of Columbia – four of these women including DC’s Kara McCullough were of color. Social media was quite vocal on noticing this, with #blackgirlmagic quickly trending.

Anther subject of interest in the competition was the swimsuit portion. While Miss USA’s junior counterpart Miss Teen USA has decided to phase out swimwear for athletic wear, the tradition remains here, but with some tweaks.

Rather than going with a uniform swimwear across the board – usually, bikinis – the swimwear for the 2017 contestants was a rainbow’s worth of varying colors and cuts, with some of the girls sporting one-pieces, or even sleeved swimwear. This is in tune with the prevailing spirit of feminism and women’s empowerment in the pageant. The Q&A portion was also revamped with user-submitted skim questions.

Tribute to a mom

It seemed rather fitting for outgoing Miss USA Deshauna Barber that this year’s pageant fell on Mother’s Day. The US Army Reserve Captain had decided to celebrate her mother Cordelia, who died shortly after her 2016 win, by showing up for coronation night to crown her successor Kara McCullough, with her previously straightened hair done in an afro style just like her mom’s.

Barber also came clean regarding her past interviews where she claimed her emotional state during her crowning was due to her having worked hard to get that far in the pageant. Rather, she had been worried about her mother who was at home struggling with cancer that would eventually kill her. This two became a viral topic on Twitter, with many praising her throwback tribute.

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