Miss Teen USA, Karlie Hay, is being allowed to keep her title despite frequent use of the word “nigger” on social media.
On July 30, shortly after the Texas teen, who is White, won the pageant, screenshots of Hay’s Tweets from 2013 resurfaced in which she repeatedly used the word. Despite pressure to revoke Hay’s crown, Miss Universe, which runs the Miss Teen USA pageant issued a statement in support of Hay. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump previously owned a portion of the Miss Universe organization. Last year Trump sold his interest to WME | IME, a talent agency, following his controversial remarks about Hispanics and other ethnic groups.
“As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes. Karlie learned many lessons through those personal struggles that reshaped her life and values. We as an organization are committed to supporting her continued growth,” said the statement, which was released to Time.
Karlie Hay also posted an apology on her various social media pages on July 31st. “Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person. I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for. Through hard work, education and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person,” Hay wrote on Instagram and Twitter. “I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of The Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women.”
The tweets from a few years ago appeared on Hay’s personal twitter account, which is now private. However screenshots of the tweets are still circulating around the web. Hay appears to have joked around with her friends by using the racial slur repeatedly. Some of her tweets include “@zacharyryanstew I don’t have your number nigga!” and “@maryguinn1 I know I’m a comedian nigger.”
In the statement to Time, the Miss Universe Organization stated that “The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization.”
The pageant itself was also criticized for its lack of diversity. This year’s top five contestants were all White women with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Model, and wife of John Legend, Chrissy Teigen tweeted a picture of the top five looking eerily similar and sarcastically wrote “Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch.”
Former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford wrote on Twitter that while she can take the Miss Teen USA top five being all White and blonde, she did not understand why Hay did not filter her social media. “If u win any pageant – first things first. Clean up ur page. Cus if ur under 21 u shouldn’t b drinking&if ur WHITE the n word ain’t yo word!” she tweeted. Crawford, who is Black, was the first woman from Maryland to win the Miss Teen USA pageant and is also a star on BET’s “F In Fabulous” show.
Crawford also wrote “Words don’t have ownership but they do have historical significance and are hurtful to specific people.”