The story about Nikole Churchill, the white student who recently won the title of Miss Hampton at the predominantly black Hampton University, has challenged a lot of folks to look at the race issue from yet another angle. Churchill beat out nine black women to win the school’s 15th annual beauty pageant, which awards a scholarship in addition to that fancy tiara. She was the first non-black student to ever win the crown.

The debate that has followed is a predictable one. We think this editorial from NewsOne poses some interesting questions. Among them: Is it racist for black folk to oppose the idea of a white student winning a title at an HBCU because she isn’t black? And should blackness be a prerequisite for admission to an HBCU?

The NewsOne editorial also wonders whether this brand of beauty contest lowers the standards of a distinguished HBCU like Hampton:

This is high-school-grade one-upmanship at its finest. These HBCUs began as institutions meant to uplift and empower African-Americans with a quality education, as many of the most astute [] members pointed out. So why are events such as these so huge? How do they become so politically charged? Why don’t HBCUs feel empowered and PROUD that the quality of the education they provide has attracted people from every walk of life, every race?

So, what do you think? Are there important lessons here for folks to glean, or has this incident been blown out of proportion, as Churchill now claims?

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