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Miss Teen USA on being biracial

"I'm black and I'm also white. And I'm happy being both." Miss Teen USA explains her journey to embracing her racial identity.

Miss Teen USA 2019 makes history

Kaliegh Garris, who is Miss Teen USA 2019, made history as 1 of 5 women of color holding crowns in the major beauty pageants. While many media headlines announced it was "5 black women" who'd been crowned, Garris says navigating her own racial identity was more complex. Garris explains, “Because growing up, I obviously can't pass as a white woman. But I obviously don't know if I could fully pass as a black woman.” Throughout her childhood, she never really knew where she fit in.

Embracing racial identity

Garris learned how to embrace her natural hair years prior to competing in Miss Teen USA. In the past, she wanted nothing more than to fit in. Garris elaborates, “I started getting keratin treatments in my hair because my mom had long blond straight hair and I wanted to be exactly like her.” Eventually, it was her friends who gave her the push she needed to cut her hair and truly start being herself. Now, Garris doesn’t hesitate to boast about her natural hair. “Personally, I love my curly hair. It makes me feel just completely myself and it's very me. I love being big. So it's just something that I've really grown into myself,” she tells Brut.

Inspiring future generations

Now she wants to empower young people to find their own identity. She encourages others explaining, “It's going to take time, but you will find your place, because I know growing up, I was always unsure of where I belonged, what table to sit at, who my friends were. And now I know I can be friends with whoever I want. And it doesn't matter what they identify as, what I identify as.” By sharing her story with her new title and influence, she has the opportunity to inspire thousands of young girls to step out of their comfort zone. “Because at the end of the day, we're people and we can be friends. And so it's going to take time to fully come into yourself. But that's OK. And you'll find it,” she concludes.

Brut.

01/28/2020 7:38 PMupdated: 01/28/2020 7:50 PM
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195 comments

  • Ayesha W.
    04/22/2020 06:20

    Beautiful girl and great story! Embrace both because that’s who you really are!

  • Nicole E.
    04/20/2020 17:53

    You are beautiful!!! Be proud of who you are❤️

  • Kiandriah M.
    04/20/2020 16:14

    thank you!

  • Muslimah J.
    04/20/2020 14:27

    You have no racial identity! Get over yourself

  • Robert O.
    04/20/2020 13:28

    I absolutely hate that biracial people often feel pressured into basically having to pick a team or a side... Mostly when they are equal parts black and white, and basically made to feel like they have to dismiss one of their parents ethnicity all together... When it come to my people at least (black people) it’s been said by black people if you even look part black you’re just black... I myself am mixed with a few things and often get mistaken for blacktino or afro-latino... I don’t get the negativity or shade that gets thrown at racially reverse individuals... Why does or should it matter???

  • Farha S.
    04/20/2020 08:29

    Your skin is brown and we see people with curly hair like that here .you can call yourself brown .

  • Gurcan C.
    04/20/2020 08:19

    GOOD LUCK

  • Nwanosike B.
    04/20/2020 07:56

    If your dad is black, then you're a black woman..... Stop confusing yourself.... If your dad is white, then your a white woman..... But it still doesn't mean you'll cut your maternal sides out, cause they're family too... That's who you are...

  • Daniel B.
    04/20/2020 07:16

    light skin black people tend to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder, some even going as far as getting offended when they're called black. If we use her logic, Obama wasn't black then.

  • Lawrence K.
    04/20/2020 02:39

    God sent, we are expected to embrace one but not the other which I find ridiculously racist in it’s self ...Being of both myself...

  • James S.
    04/20/2020 01:28

    Many blacks will hate her and say she isn't black.. white people won't make problems for her. She is beautiful and seem smart.

  • Susan R.
    04/20/2020 00:39

    Beautiful

  • Tony S.
    04/19/2020 22:32

    Beautiful 💕

  • Cassandra G.
    04/19/2020 21:57

    You are Bi-racial and beautiful. We all belong to this so call Human Race. 😊

  • Terri S.
    04/19/2020 21:30

    show this to danica

  • Roland O.
    04/19/2020 21:27

    Thats so sick .

  • Conrad R.
    04/19/2020 21:20

    Ion Africa we call ourselves Colored or Mixed Race

  • Abdullah N.
    04/19/2020 19:49

    I have nothing against you but if you didnt know what you were since youre not black or white YOURE BROWN

  • Ko N.
    04/19/2020 19:05

    Congratulations