Miss Black USA 2014*To be able to celebrate your blackness out loud, without feeling the need to conform, justify, downplay or apologize, is a beautiful thing. And contestants in the Miss Black USA Pageant fully embody that spirit.

“Any time you are considered a subculture, it’s important to have your own reward system. If you try to assimilate, you will always be looking for validation from the majority group. That can do damage to your psyche,” says Karen Arrington, who founded the Miss Black USA Pageant. “Miss Black USA contestants celebrate their own unique traits and differences…don’t have to conform to European standards. They define their own standards of beauty, which come in various shades and sizes.”

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