Miss Michigan Calls Out Flint Water Crisis During Pageant Intro -- And It's Everything

by Christina Marfice
Image via Jim Defede / Twitter

Miss Michigan Emily Sioma made use of her three seconds of airtime during the Miss America pageant

She may not have taken home the Miss American crown, but Miss Michigan Emily Sioma definitely stole the show during last night’s pageant. She didn’t make it far enough to have more than a few seconds of airtime, but she surely made them count.

During her introduction, a time when most contestants talk about their education or volunteerism, Sioma had another idea.

“From the state with 84 percent of the U.S.’s fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma,” she announced.

Sioma was clearly referring to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been without clean drinking water for years due to lead contamination from outdated infrastructure. Children there have been exposed to lead in their water that could cause them serious health problems later in their lives, and the outdated pipes won’t be replaced any sooner than 2020.

Sioma did not come to play. We already knew the Miss America pageant would be new and improved this year after the swimsuit portion of the competition was finally eliminated, but we did not know this was becoming a platform for a bunch of women to tout their activism. Let me be the first to say that I am here for it.

Just kidding — I’m far from the first. Twitter has been loving this since the second it happened.

In case that isn’t enough to make you wish Sioma were your new best friend, there’s even more to make her one of the most badass pageant contestants of all time. The water crises she so brilliantly called out? It’s not even her social impact initiative, which is “I Believe You” – Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence. She’s a survivor of sexual violence herself, and she put off quitting competing in pageants because she saw an opportunity to empower other survivors through that platform.

Miss Michigan didn’t win the pageant (that honor went to Miss New York Nia Franklin, the ninth black Miss America to be crowned). But Sioma seems to have ushered in a definite new era for the pageant, where the women who participate are finally judged on their strength, drive and intelligence rather than their looks.