When You Lose, You’re Actually Winning

Pageantry is a sport.


Pageantry is a sport. I train and prepare for competitions so that basically makes it a sport to me. I have been competing for years, and I have lost more than I have won. To say that I haven't been devastated at times would be far from the truth; especially since I have a knack for being 1st runner up.

To be so close but not win is not easy, but in hindsight I know that all of those losses prepared me for life itself. For my destiny.

I know you must be reading this asking yourself, "What the heck is good about losing?" Well, I'll tell you. Here is my point of view:

You learn to identify your areas of opportunities:

Most people call them "weaknesses" but I am not fond of that word. "An area of opportunity" has a much better tone. It is something that you need to work on to become better; to be what you see yourself as. In identifying your areas of opportunities, you can develop a plan to improve and be better prepared for the next attempt at any goal. From my experiences, I have learned to be honest with myself about my strengths and areas of opportunities. I do not wait for others to point them out, I seek them out myself and make a solid effort to make improvements. Outside of pageantry, this has helped me immensely in my career and with my personal relationships as well.

You develop "haters" and you learn to ignore them:

I come from a small island – 32 square miles to be exact. So it didn't take long for me to get wind of what people were saying. After placing first runner up three competitions in a row, I knew people were wondering why I just didn't quit. And for a brief moment, I actually cared about what people thought. However, it did not take long for me to realize that those were the exact same people that never attempted to accomplish anything, ever. They were quick to chastise people who tried and were content with being lackluster.

At that moment, I realized that I was not to give up on a passion for those who had none.

Besides, quitters NEVER win! fast forward a few years later, and I am an international title holder whose accomplishments have also allowed me to be recognized by one of the biggest and most respected entertainment/hospitality companies and assist in fast-tracking my career. If I had given up, I would probably be where my naysayers are now – right where I left them four years ago.

You realize that you may not win but other opportunities may present themself:

Each loss came and another door opened! I met important individuals who would play an integral role in future opportunities. I made great friends and gained supporters along the way. I met future sponsors and was able to gain valuable work experiences. I learned the value of networking (a huge aspect for my career) and the importance being kind to EVERYONE, even those that won over me. A crown and a sash is cool but being respected and gaining character development is much more important and a much bigger prize in the end.

You learn to handle disappointments gracefully:

Writing this doesn't mean that I like losing. I don't. Nor do I encourage anyone to compete to lose. I do however know that losing happens and when it does, it truly shows the character and maturity of an individual. It sucks to be known as a sore loser or bad competitor. I recall one particular pageant that I had made a lot of personal sacrifices for and did all that I could to be flawless in each category. There were many signs that the directors were rooting for another contestant but I ignored it and kept my focus on me. That evening, when we were the last two standing and I was called the runner up, she was in complete shock. In that moment, I wanted to scream and needed to get away fast but couldn't.

I had to maintain my composure and be happy for the opportunity that was given to my competitor.

More importantly, with all eyes on me I had to ensure that I accepted my loss with tact and pride. I posed for pictures, thanked my supporters, and left the stage. Like a baby, I cried only once I was alone with my mom (I promise it wasn't long). Then I gathered my things and went out to party with my friends. Over the next couple of weeks, the pageant was a hot topic amongst people that attended the show and I was asked about it more than once while out and about. My answer was simple: "The judges' decision is final and I respected that."

Did I have more to say? Yes! I was still very hurt but I knew that only my family and friends should hear my true anger and disappointment. Those feelings in public could never be revealed. It was a tough loss, very tough loss, but I survived. And not only did I survive, but I mustered up the courage to try again and I finally got the BIG title: Miss US Virgin Islands World 2012.

Life is not fair and everything happens for a reason:

I learned this lesson quickly. Sometimes you are the best and deserve the victory but it still won't work out in your favor. This is life – situations are not always fair. Let's take a look at a slightly different scenario other than pageantry: You have been working hard to earn a promotion at work. Your work is flawless, you come in on time. You look the part and spend long hours and yet, a slacker is promoted to the role that you have been working extremely hard for.

Is it fair? No, but this scenario happens more often than we like to admit. Should you be disappointed? Yes, it would be a natural feeling, but I would encourage anyone to continue working hard. A lot of the time, something better - something you may not have plan for - works out in your favor. Then you realize that what you thought was a setback was actually a set up for something greater! You must stay positive and realize that everything happens for reason. It's just that you almost never understand the reason until later.

Stay positive. Learn from your errors. Don't give up. All cliché but all are very true.

*Featured image by NatashaSmithPhoto

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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