AUSTIN - A University of Texas senior is facing internet backlash after being crowned Miss Black University of Texas (UT).
Rachael Malonson is biracial and said because of her skin tone, some people don't recognize that. In fact, some of her critics have told her she's not black enough.
She said she entered this pageant to feel more empowered as a black woman, but after winning the competition she was met with some criticism she didn't expect.
"Someone literally asked me are you black? Can you prove it to me? " Malonson said. "I was like yes, my dad's black and my mom's white."
Members of the Iota Delta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominantly black UT fraternity, said they have two qualifications for entering their annual scholarship pageant.
"You have to be a woman and you have to have some African-American in your heritage," member Nyles Washington said.
"I don't fit the stereotypical look that a black person would fit," Malonson said.
Malonson said the avalanche of tweets she got because of her winning the competition got so bad she had to delete Twitter off of her phone.
"One guy said 'Kind of sad that the black community didn't have the brass to limit the pageant to only women that look black,'"
We asked UT Psychologist and Professor of African Studies Kevin Cokley what he thinks is driving these types of responses.
"People of African descent who are more phenotypically black, if you will, have not gotten positive messages about their looks," Professor Cokley said.
He believes some people on social media look at Malonson's win as reiterating this.
Malonson says she wants people to know she won the title based off of her hard work and not her color.
"I want people to be able to break away from those stereotypes," Malonson said.
She believes this experience has given her a bigger platform to share those thoughts.
Malonson is graduating this month with a degree in journalism and a focus on diversity in the media. She said she plans to take what she has learned at UT, and incorporate it into her future career.
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