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This Miss America Contestant's Response To The Question Of Kneeling During The National Anthem Won Her A Scholarship

9Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)

A Miss America pageant contestant won the onstage question by answering a prompt regarding NFL players protesting against racial injustice and police brutality by "taking a knee."

Miss Virginia, Emili McPhail, was asked what advice she would give to players on whether they should take a knee or stand during the national anthem.


The question was asked during Thursday's second night of preliminaries ahead of the 2019 Miss America competition.

McPhail's winning response? According to the Press of Atlantic City, she answered:

"Kneeling during the national anthem is absolutely a right that you have: to stand up for what you believe in and to make the right decision that's right for you."

But then she added:

"It's very important that we also have to take into consideration that it is not about kneeling: It is absolutely about police brutality."

McPhail won the $1,000 scholarship money after she impressed judges. Contestants are asked questions cold, meaning they do not know what they will be asked in advance and have to provide an answer within a specified timeframe.


The polarizing debate about the protest by some players against racial injustice and unequal treatment by law enforcement recently came to the forefront again after Nike appointed Colin Kaepernick to be one of its spokespeople. The NFL quarterback's face is featured in ads celebrating the sports apparel's 30th anniversary of the "Just Do It" campaign along with four other athletes.


The free agent quarterback spearheaded the movement to draw awareness to the disparity in treatment and deaths of unarmed people of color by law enforcement in 2016, by refusing to stand during the national anthem. The protest against racial injustice and police brutality against unarmed people of color, especially African Americans, quickly drew national attention.

His demonstration sparked major controversy however when politicians misrepresented the purpose to bolster their own political profile.

President Trump claimed Kaepernick's gesture unpatriotic and disrespectful to veterans, despite having no veterans in his own family to consult. Several veterans groups came out in support of the right to protest racial injustice.

Trump also famously suggested that the players who protest should be fired.


Other players, inspired by Kaepernick, began adopting his approach in solidarity.

After Thursday's onstage question round, reporters asked McPhail if she had any regrets about her answer potentially alienating those with a different opinion.

She said that people were entitled to their own opinions, but she believed that being true to yourself was most important.

"I said standing up for what you believe in is the most important thing that you can do, and that's what I did."
"I was very happy to have that moment, to be honest, because it's not always easy."

People lauded the contestant's articulate response, but there were still those who continue to miss the point of the protest.

And some even cited nonexistent statistical data.

While Whites make up the majority of the population and would logically be at the top of related statistics due to sheer numbers, every analysis of deaths during interactions with law enforcement show that by percentage of population and percentage of deaths, Native American men and women are most likely to die during any interaction with law enforcement.


Data collected by Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCNN graphic of CDC statistics

Native Americans are followed by African Americans and then Hispanics and then Whites when it comes to deaths. In relation to crimes committed, Whites come first, then African Americans, then Hispanics and then Native Americans. Asians take last position in both statistics.

Fourth in crime but first in deaths and first in crime but fourth in deaths is the disparity that is being protested. And while African Americans fall second on both lists, their percentage of death is far higher than it should be based on their percentage of the population and their percentage of crimes committed.

Law enforcement is demonstrably treating people of color differently according to the statistics. This is the only reason players kneel.


But there were plenty who were in Miss Virginia's corner, including actual veterans and not just those who claim to speak for them.






In June, the Hollins University graduate won the Miss Virginia pageant with her platform focusing on ending U.S. hunger and by displaying her talent by playing the piano.

The 2019 Miss America pageant will air on Sunday, September 9, at 9 p.m. on ABC.

H/T - PressofAtanticCity, Twitter, WashingtonPost, Wikipeda