Racism, hatred do not hinder model Sofia Hanan
A Palestinian-Latina-American model ran for Miss California USA amidst a rampant rise of American racism and white nationalism, but it didn’t faze her.
Sofia Hanan, 23, born and raised in California to an Egyptian-born Palestinian father, didn’t win, but she competed in the annual competition in firm defiance of some of the recently voiced stereotypes cast against Arabs and Latinos by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“We must continue to stand strong, be true to who we are and speak up about who we are,” Hanan told Palestine in America. “We must show how much love there is present in the world and in all humanity, despite the terror and hate that consumes our media headlines.”
Hanan said that one of the most powerful aspects of the pageant is the opportunity it provided and the “ability to speak on various issues, free from constraint, and spread messages of peace.”
“Women competing in pageants gain the skills to verbalize and clearly relay their unfiltered thoughts to others by competing in pageants,” Hanan said. She also commented on the commonly held negative views of pageants.
“Part of the bad rep comes from the swimsuit aspect of the pageantry – not only from many in the middle-east, but also by feminists within the west. In my opinion, any criticism is far outweighed by the platform one gains that enables one to spread a much bigger message.”
Hanan noted that she was apprehensive about entering the pageant.
“I was at first nervous of what might come from competing as an Arab-American in a beauty pageant, as it’s something almost taboo in the Arab world,” Hanan told Al Arabiya News.
“But I’ve always wanted to compete in a pageant, and I’m not willing to live with the regret of not attempting something that I’ve always wanted to.”
Other Arab-American women have competed for the title in the past, such as Rima Fakih, a Lebanese-American actor and model who won Miss USA in 2010, and Miss Arab USA 2014 Guinwa Zeineddine, also of Lebanese descent.
Hanan told PiA that she was notified that she had received the most media coverage of all contestants in the Miss California USA pageant, citing spotlights on Al-Arabiya English and Univision.
Hanan said the following about finding hope in a time of despair:
“We as society and humanity must not be scared, but must come together as a community and rise above the messages which segregate us. We must learn to love each other regardless of any differences we have, religious, ethnic, sexuality, etc.” she told PiA.
“As a person of Arab descent, I will encourage all Arabs to do their best to go out into their communities and work for positive causes, be proud of who we are and fight negative stereotypes.”