The Miss World America organization is under fire after stripping a President Donald Trump–supporting model of her Miss Michigan title over “racist, Islamophobic, and insensitive” tweets.
Kathy Zhu, 20, is a University of Michigan student who won the 2019 Michigan World America title on Sunday. However, her reign was cut short after organizers became aware of Zhu’s controversial Twitter account days later.
Zhu took to Twitter to post screenshots of Thursday’s email and text exchanges with the state director of Miss World America (not to be confused with Miss Universe, formerly owned by Trump), Laurie DeJack, who said that the MWA organization came across Zhu’s account, where the beauty queen goes by “Political Kathy” and felt that her content was in violation of the organization’s rules and conditions.
“Do not go out representing Michigan World America. We do have a problem,” a text from DeJack reads. “Just notifying you that we have an issue and we will need to talk!”
A later email that included the national director and chief operating office of MWA went on to explain that Zhu allegedly violated the contestant requirement of “being of good character” and not being “likely to bring into disrepute Miss World America or any person associated with the organization.”
“Your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive and inappropriate content,” DeLaurie wrote. “Therefore, and effective immediately, MWA does not recognize you as a participant of any sort or in any capacity as it relates to any and all events of MWA.”
Zhu claimed that the decision was made on the basis of her refusal to try on a hijab in 2018 — something that sparked controversy amongst her fellow University of Central Florida students on World Hijab Day on campus — as well as over her tweets about black gun violence.
She tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the pageant’s organizers were made aware of all of her social media pages before they accepted her as a contestant — although they claim that they were misled by Zhu’s legal Chinese name.
“I feel like it’s their fault for not vetting me properly before they signed me up for this,” Zhu says. “They complained that I didn’t give them my name, but I did. They referred to me as Kathy and they knew me as Kathy but I signed my legal papers with my legal name, obviously. So it was just really weird how they were like, ‘Oh, well you misled us.’ I mean, I sent them everything. So they should’ve known better to check my stuff before they continued with this.”
Still, Zhu says that the entire controversy has more to do with an issue larger than the organization’s prior awareness of her social media.
“They’re not letting people that represent another side of the story represent them,” she explains. “They only want someone to say things that people want to hear. And there’s a lot of things in this world that it’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.”
The beauty queen went on to say that she had no intention of using her platform for divisive politics, but instead to encourage people to use their voice, no matter the cause.
Ultimately, however, MWA wasn’t willing to give Zhu that opportunity.
“It’s not even about a crown or a pageant,” she says, “It’s about the fact that people really do discriminate against people with conservative views.”
Now, people are showing their support for the pageant queen on Twitter — including Joy Villa — and echoing the belief that she was stripped of the title because of her political stance.
Miss World America didn’t immediately reply to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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