Black Army Commander Wins Miss USA Pageant, Victory Sparks Positive and Negative Reactions

Deshauana Barber, 26, of District of Columbia was crowned Miss USA 2016 Sunday night at the T-Moblie Arena in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of MissUniverse.com

Deshauana Barber, 26, of District of Columbia was crowned Miss USA 2016 Sunday night at the T-Moblie Arena in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of MissUniverse.com

A 26-year-old Army officer took home the crown at Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant after delivering a strong response regarding women in the U.S. military.

Deshauna Barber, a U.S. Army Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Fort Meade, Maryland, is the new Miss USA 2016. Amid a cheering crowd of fans at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Barber seemed to secure her win during the Q&A portion of the competition.

The Army Officer gave the perfect answer when asked about the government’s controversial decision to open up all combat jobs to women in the armed forces.

“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military,” Barber stated. “We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I am powerful. I am dedicated. And it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”

It was in that moment fans knew the Columbus, Georgia native was going home with the crown. Many took to Twitter to express their excitement and declare Barber the winner.

According to the Associated Press, Barber is the first member of the U.S. military to ever win Miss USA. During a news conference following the live competition, the newly crowned pageant queen announced her plans to take a break from the Army Reserve to fulfill her duties as Miss USA. She said she had already discussed the matter with her superiors prior to winning the title.

“My commander should be watching right now,” Barber said. “Two days a month is definitely not active duty. It is an obligation that I signed up for, but they are very flexible in the United States Army Reserve.”

As the new Miss USA, the First Lieutenant hopes to be a voice for women and men serving in the U.S. military. Her platform will specifically focus on “PTSD treatment for soldiers returning from deployments and suicide prevention in the Armed Forces,” per the official Miss USA website.

However, Barber’s victory came with a side of haters. Many tried to negate her win, saying that runner-up Miss Hawaii deserved the crown after a bogus question regarding who she would vote for in this year’s presidential election. The second-place winner gracefully side-stepped the loaded question, but her response was still no match for Barber’s.

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People really lost their minds after host Terrence J referred to Barber as a “sista,” accusing him of turning the pageant into a “black-white thing.”

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According to the Miss USA website, Barber is the daughter of a retired Army Master Sergeant, so it’s no surprise she decided to join the U.S. Army. From North Carolina to Nebraska, Minnesota to Virginia, she has lived all over the U.S. due to her father’s military career.

Also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Barber relocated to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Virginia State University, an HBCU. The pageant website states that she now serves as an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

After a year of serving as Miss USA, Barber will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, the Associated Press reports.

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