On May 14, Miss District of Columbia contestant Kara McCullough was crowned the winner of the 2017 Miss USA contest. Yet, it’s not her victory that is causing a stir; it’s her controversial comments about healthcare and feminism.
McCullough, 25, who secured the crown for D.C. for the second year in a row, was asked during the question-and-answer portion of the competition if “affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or privilege.”
The Naples, Italy-born contestant responded: “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see first-hand that, for one, to have health care, you have to have jobs.”
McCullough is a physical scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Her comments come just one week after the House passed controversial legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The newly proposed legislation would impact Americans with pre-existing conditions and increase premium costs, according to a report from AARP.
On May 16, McCullough clarified her pageant response on Good Morning America. “I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right. I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide,” she said. “I just want people to see where I was coming from. I have to look at health care like it is a privilege.”
Additionally, when asked about her views on feminism during the top five finalists round, McCullough said: “So as a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word ‘feminism’ to ‘equalism.’ I don’t really want to consider myself – try not to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like ‘Oh, I don’t really care about men.’”
While many on social media were excited that another Black woman secured the Miss USA crown, others couldn’t look past her Q&A responses.
“Do not take your political advice from this #MissUSA. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” Baltimore-based Black Lives Matters activist DeRay McKesson tweeted. Others were confused and concerned about McCullough’s understanding of feminism.
The newly-crowned Miss USA is an HBCU graduate of South Carolina State University and runs a tutoring program for students who need help in math and science. McCullough will compete next in the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines later this year.