Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

The fall of Miss Michigan: US beauty queen stripped of title over 'insensitive' tweets

The pageant winner made derogatory comments about the hijab, as well as racially focused remarks on gun violence

Kathy Zhu will no longer represent Miss Michigan at the Miss World America pageant. Kathy Zhu / Instagram
Kathy Zhu will no longer represent Miss Michigan at the Miss World America pageant. Kathy Zhu / Instagram

Miss Michigan has lost her crown after a number of "offensive, insensitive and inappropriate" comments on her Twitter feed were brought to light.

Pageant winner Kathy Zhu, who won the state competition last week, has been stripped of her title by the Miss World America organisation, she revealed on Friday.

The decision is effective immediately, with the 20-year-old student at the University of Michigan required to remove all mention of being a Miss World America participant from her social media accounts.

“It has been brought to the attention of Miss World America (MWA) that your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive and inappropriate content,” stated an email informing Zhu of the decision, which the student shared on her Twitter account.

The email from the pageant's state director, Laurie DeJack, added that Zhu's tweets violated MWA's rules and conditions, which specifically call for contestants to be "of good character".

The decision was triggered by racially and religiously charged comments from Zhu's Twitter account, which have been recently unearthed.

One was posted in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, an activist initiative campaigning against violence and systemic racism towards the black community.

“Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks?” Zhu wrote in a since-deleted comment in 2017, according to The Independent. “Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.”

The pageant winner also criticised a World Hijab Day awareness event at the University of Central Florida, where she had previously been enrolled.

“There’s a ‘try a hijab on’ booth at my college campus,” Zhu posted in 2018, in a message that has also since been deleted. “So you’re telling me that it’s now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam.”

Zhu, an active Republican supporter and the social media director for the national group Chinese Americans for Trump, later stated she believed MWA's decision was discriminatory.

“This is so much bigger than pageantry. This is about an organisation discriminating against people with different opinions,” the student said in a video shared on Twitter. "There shouldn't just be diversity of skin colour, there should be diversity of thought and mindset and political affiliation."

Zhu also vowed to continue to "fight for what I believe in", though added she would not be taking any legal action against the organisation.

“They just immediately assumed that I was a racist,” Zhu told the New York Times. “They should have let me explain myself.”

The Miss World America organisation has not yet confirmed who will represent the state of Michigan at the pageant's national competition in October.

Updated: July 22, 2019 11:53 AM

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