Margana Wood, a.k.a. Miss Texas, didn’t win the 2018 Miss America pageant, but her unequivocal response to a question about President Donald Trump, Charlottesville, and white supremacy was the biggest news of the night.
Wood and her fellow Miss America contestants participated in several rounds of competition that included swimsuit, evening gown, and talent portions, as well as two rounds of questions. In her second round of questions, Wood was asked specifically about the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville in August:
Last month, a demonstration of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK in Charlottesville turned violent and a counterprotester was killed. The president said there was shared blame with “very fine people on both sides.” Were there? Tell me yes or no, and explain.
I think that the white supremacist issue — it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack, and I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact, and making sure that all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.
Wood’s response is garnering attention for two reasons. Not only did she firmly rebuke and name-check Trump, going against the stereotype that pageant contestants are safe, rehearsed, and, if we’re being mean, dumb — but she also represents Texas, where 52 percent of voters cast their ballots for Trump in the 2016 election.
Wood’s firm response seems to reflect her personal beliefs and concerns. According to her Miss America bio, she is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and one of her primary interests is supporting inclusion and speaking out against bullying:
She uses her SMART students program to help share the importance of respect and inclusion and has also partnered with The Little Words Project, a national organization whose mission is to spread kindness. As Miss Texas/Miss America she looks forward to continuing her message of respect by encouraging audiences to embrace the notion that we can live in a judgement free society where everyone belongs.
Despite her answer and the viral standing ovation it’s garnered, Wood was the fourth runner-up in the Miss America pageant. At the end of Sunday’s competition, the crown went to Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota, who also criticized Trump during one of her rounds of questions by declaring that it was a “bad decision” for the president to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.