Emma Dickson was crowned Miss Black Colorado 2020 at a time when social and racial justice are at the forefront of public awareness and conversation.
That heightened awareness has created an opportunity for Dickson in her new role, as she says people are finally ready to listen.
The twenty-five-year-old from Highlands Ranch is a 2018 graduate of Metro State University in Denver, with a degree in Speech Communications, and has a unique story to share.
Miss Black Colorado 2020
Introducing Miss Black Colorado 2020, Emma Dickson from Highlands Ranch.
Dickson grew up in a transracially adoptive home. She was adopted into a white family as an infant, and grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colo., a predominantly white community.
While she had a loving family and great educational opportunities, she says she grew up experiencing constant racism, especially discrimination about the way she looked.
Growing up in a white family and community, she also struggled with racial identity. At the time, even mass media failed to offer her examples of Black women to learn from that fit her experience.
Offering young women an empowering role model is part of her mission. She aims to counteract stereotypes found in the media of how Black women are expected to look and act.
“It means shaping a new identity and showing that we are such a diverse group of women,” Dickson said.
Dickson views health and wellness as an essential part of coping with mental challenges that come with experiencing racism, and it's part of the platform she aims to share as Miss Black Colorado.
“Unfortunately, most of Black America has little access to healthy foods in general,” Dickson said.
Her goal is to help develop sustainable food systems for Black communities, especially in places considered food deserts, where access to fresh and healthy groceries is limited. “My biggest goal would be to change things on the legislative scale,” Dickson said. “Having better access for these communities to get to grocery stores that offer fresh produce.”
Dickson’s plans include pursuing an MBA degree to further her work in wellness. She entered the Miss Black Colorado pageant to pursue a scholarship to support her graduate studies.
Dickson will represent Colorado at the Miss Black USA national scholarship pageant, currently planned for February 2021, for her chance to win a scholarship.
Dickson spoke more about the challenges she faced growing up in an audio story shared by Metro State University in an alumni story about her.
In the audio story, Dickson says attending Howard University, a historically-Black college in in Washington, D.C., for two years, and becoming part of the Black community in Denver, helped develop her racial identity and awareness.
Now, she can share that awareness with others at a historic moment in time.
“I think people are finally really understanding the systematic racism that has been put in place in this country,” Dickson said. “And I think that people finally wanna peek through the veil a little bit and try to understand a little bit what it’s like for us.”
“We’ve been saying this for years,” Dickson said. “And it felt like we’ve just been talking to a brick wall because people just didn’t want to talk about the uncomfortable subjects.”
“Now that I’m Miss Black Colorado, I’m getting a lot of opportunity because people finally want to hear our stories.”
The Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant has been running for more than 25 years, and has awarded approximately $500,000 in scholarships to Black women over the years, according to their website. The organization aims to empower women to use their voices to make a difference in society.