Flint takes the stage

Miss Michigan blasts her state’s water crisis

By on September 18, 2018

Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan, called out her state’s water crisis during her Miss America introduction.

The 92nd annual Miss America pageant was held on Sept. 9. During the event, each contestant had 10 seconds to introduce themselves, stating their name and where they are from. Miss Michigan decided to say a little more than that.

“From the state with 84 percent of the U.S. freshwater but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma.”

Graphic by Ian Berkey
This took many people by surprise, since contestants don’t usually use their introduction to shed light on such important issues. This was an attempt to bring attention to the ongoing health crisis happening in Flint, Michigan.

“It is amazing she is using such a big forum,” freshman psychology and criminal justice double major Juliana Brown said. “I think people ignore big issues just because so many big things are happening so that people’s focus is just moved onto the next issue. This issue has been happening for six or so years and people keep forgetting no matter how many times it is brought up.”

The lead poisoning from the city’s drinking water has plagued the residents of Flint. The government did not invest enough money into the city’s water system and it became corroded in dangerously old lead pipes. This has been an issue since April 2014 and still, nothing is being done to stop it.

Sioma decided she was tired of waiting.

“It wasn’t a very spur of the moment decision,” Sioma said in an interview with ABC news. “I had this gut feeling that if I didn’t make it into the top 15, I would never have a chance to be able to speak on national television about something that was important to me, or to make the moment meaningful.”

Since then, Sioma has many spoken on many media platforms.

“About two days beforehand, we had a full dress rehearsal and I just thought, ‘Emily, remember why you took this opportunity in the first place,’” Sioma said in an interview with Cosmopolitan. “Activism is such a huge part of who I am; I just had this moment thinking, ‘How am I going to make this moment meaningful?’”

“It was a cool thing to call out a huge political issue but a beauty pageant isn’t a place for that,” freshman marketing major Calum Scott, who had never heard of the issue before, said. “It is a place where people go to get away from everything that is happening not hear more about it… a place for people to enjoy themselves.”

Of course, Twitter users did not remain silent on the issue.

“In this house we stan Emily Sioma,” @kevinpokeeffe tweeted.

“Emily Sioma for president,” @adilafathallah, tweeted.

“Maybe for the television program it wasn’t really necessary, but I think she had the right mindset saying what was going on in Michigan. I think it’s good to be vocal about it and get her ideas out there,” freshman film, television and media major, Eric Kerr said.

Many people felt Sioma should have won due to her powerful statement, however, Miss New York, Nia Franklin, was ultimately crowned the winner. Sioma simply stating that there should be clean water in Flint wasn’t enough for viewers to feel she deserved the win.

“Miss Michigan needs to win the 2019 Miss America Pageant simply for stating there still isn’t any clean water during her introduction! #Michigan #MissAmerica,” Twitter user @SundaeCouture wrote.

“Emily Sioma should have won. She most embodied the supposed point of these pageants,” user @dogdayofsum tweeted.

Emily Sioma’s efforts did not go unnoticed and people are hoping her call for action will lead to a change that has been long overdue.

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