By: Devin Leith-Yessian
Simone Brown, a student at CCSU, was crowned at Miss CCSU, a pageant put on by Women’s Involved Now and the Black Student Union.
“This pageant’s very different,” said Cynthia Calderon, the organizer of the pageant. The pageant stressed looking past superficial beauty and focusing on the personality and talents of the woman.
The pageant was composed of two sections, one where the contestants spoke on a social issue of their choosing, followed by a talent portion.
The issues the contestants spoke about ranged from the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields to relationship abuse. “I truly fear for our future if this continues,” said Victoria Hellberg, who spoke on violence and discrimination against members of the LGBT community. “We are all one in the same.”
The talent portion was launched with a taekwondo exercise put on by Calderon’s father, Calderon being a second degree black belt herself. He led a small group of children as they displayed their skills through practicing on him and each other. The presentations which were met with the strongest reactions from the crowd were a self-defense tutorial put on by Alleah Red and a monologue acted out by Brown, which she created herself.
In the monologue, Brown played the role of a fictitious woman describing the abuse she had faced from her husband to a man who was only described as having hit a woman. After the woman told her husband that she was pregnant, he threw her down the stairs telling her that he didn’t want to bring a child into this messed up world. The husband became an alcoholic after his brother was killed. The audience listened with frequent gasps and fascinated silence.
Red’s performance involved her teaching how to respond to the most common ways women are often attacked. To show how to react to being grabbed from behind she threw her partner over her back, causing him to lose his breath and eliciting concerned gasps from the crowd. After he got back on his feet she demonstrated how to throw an attacker off yourself when they have you pinned to the ground, again seemingly effortlessly tossing him aside.
The pageant was not without it’s difficulties, however. The taekwondo exercise lacked an introduction that provided context, causing it to feel disjointed and out of place in relation to the rest of the pageant. CCSU student Crystal Lopez took issue with the contestants, and female students in general, being referred to as women, rather than girls. Lopez also said that she believed that it lacked organization, with occasional mishaps occurring throughout the show.
“It wasn’t smooth sailing all the way,” said Spencer Perry, the president of WIN. However she does think that “it was a fantastic experience” especially for a first event. She hopes to turn this into an annual event with continuing collaboration with the BSU.
WIN has been around for years, but was just restarted this semester. The pageant is their first event in this reincarnation. The BSU, which co-sponsored the event is a student run organization who’s goal is “to develop a black consciousness at CCSU and to improve the cultural and social development of black students,” according to their web page.
Despite coming in expecting the pageant to be lackluster, afterwards Lopez said “The event was very touching, I cried a few times.”