This past weekend Henry Madden Library student assistant, Madeline Frazier took part in a pageant that showcases the talent and beauty of black women in our community. Madeline was crowned Miss Black Fresno 2020 and she has big plans after her win. We sat down with Madeline and asked her what it was like to represent young black girls in the community, her career goals and her experience with the pageant.
So Madeline, what is your major?
Business administration. I want to eventually open up a non-profit that focuses on black women and black girls, and breaking down the stereotypes that society puts on them. Being a black woman, you are automatically forced with all these negative stereotypes and stigmas, so it puts you down in the workplace and society. So I think that if we go out and teach them to embrace their culture, learn about their culture and history, and see all the women that came before them who actually did a lot of good stuff – just help build up each other instead of tearing each other down – and then we could really take on and defy what everyone says.
“I could be a symbol to other black girls out there that their black is beautiful on the inside and outside and that if they really put their mind to something they could do it.”
– Madeline Frazier, Miss Black Fresno 2020
What are your hobbies?
Hanging out with friends and family and my dog, Buddy
What was it like preparing for the pageant?
Before we had meet and greets with each other and we just got to know one another. And then after we started having our dance rehearsals every week. We would have workshops that were based on making us better all around. We had a health and wellness workshop, an etiquette workshop, and a sisterhood workshop just to build us up and try to make us better.
How was your experience with the pageant?
It was good, it wasn’t really about competition. It was more that we formed a sisterhood within it, so we were just happy that we could all just be together.
What does being crowned Miss Black Fresno 2020 mean to you?
It means to me that I could be a symbol to other black girls out there that their black is beautiful on the inside and outside, and that if they really put their mind to something they could do it. I know with the title on my name it will make me credible to be able to go out in the community and help advocate for different things and be able to say I’m Miss Black Fresno. It will help me be a mentor to other kids and start networking more. After the show the people from different organizations like the Metro Black Chamber of Commerce were going up to me and telling me that they want to work with me, and that fits into the non-profit that want to open.
You recited “The Average Black Girl” by Ernestine Johnson at the pageant. What significance does that poem have to you? How did you prepare for it?
I started practicing and memorizing it and I watched Ernestine recite it. Then I did an analysis for it for my English class which made me break down the poem, so that I would better understand it. The poem brings to light a lot of the stereotypes that black girls and women face in American society and basically refutes them. I feel connected to this poem because a lot of times growing up I was told that I didn’t meet the American standard of beauty. I want to defy that and show other people that they can, too.
Did you expect the reaction from the crowd? Were you nervous?
Initially, when I did the poem I knew I wanted to do something meaningful to me and to help see other people change, so when the crowd was reacting and they were ooing and awwing, I was just on stage and I paused and smiled because it just made me feel good that people were actually paying attention, listening. When I went on stage I zoned out and it was muscle memory from all the times that I practiced because I get really bad stage fright.
Any advice you would like to give to young girls who are thinking about doing a pageant?
Just to encourage anyone because I never thought I would be in a pageant – especially because these pageants are not just focused on beauty but it is focused on your whole entire personality and how you present yourself. Just working with each other and being able to do that, I would encourage other people to do it because it’s a very great experience even if you don’t win to just connect with people.
Interview by Jacqueline Gonzalez.
Photos courtesy of Madeline Frazier.