A Michigan pageant winner was stripped of her title over what the organization said were “offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate” social media posts.
University of Michigan student Kathy Zhu, 20, tweeted a conversation in which a Miss World America pageant official took issue with two now-deleted tweets from her account, @PoliticalKathy.
Zhu has approximately 80,000 followers across her Twitter andInstagram accounts, where she often supports right-leaning media, commentators, and President Donald Trump.
Miss World America’s State/National/Chief Director accused me of being racist, Islamaphobic, and insensitive.
They stripped me of my Miss Michigan title due to my refusal to try on a hijab in 2018, my tweet about black on black gun violence, and “insensitive” statistical tweets.
The first tweet the official took issue with is one that sparked controversy in 2018, when Zhu attended the University of Central Florida and went up to a Muslim Student Association booth celebrating World Hijab Day before balking at the offer to wear a hijab when offered.
“There is a ‘try a hijab on’ booth at my college campus,” Zhu tweeted at the time. “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?”
The second tweet by Zhu that sparked concern was one in which she pushed back against another user who condemned police killing black men.
“Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks?” Zhu asked. “Fix problems within your own community before blaming others.”
Zhu was announced this week as Miss Michigan World America 2019 but the title was revoked a day later. Organizers appear to have deleted the original announcement from a regional Facebook page and reposted a list of other winners.
The University of Michigan College Republicans stood by Zhu, who is vice president of the organization, reportedly saying in a statement that they support her “in decrying the outrageous behavior of [the organization] Miss World America.”
“Although they are within their rights to do this as a private organization, we believe that this decision shows incredible bias against unextraordinary right-wing opinion, which we expect will come back to hurt the organization,” the statement said.
Zhu told The Detroit News that she personally dropped off her crown and sash at the official’s house after the exchanges.
“I just think that they got a one-sided story,” Zhu told the Detroit news of pageant officials, saying the surfaced social media posts were somehow unfair and “ made it seem as if I was a bad person.”
“The whole point of them not wanting me to represent them is because they didn’t want bad publicity, but this gave them way more bad publicity because they removed someone that really didn’t do anything wrong,” she said.