Tamia Dakinah is Miss Liberia Minnesota. | Photo: Facebook, Miss Liberia MN Beauty Pageant
To make other cultures real through vivid first-hand stories and to explain the connections between “us” and “them” – that’s our goal here at Round Earth Media, and Linda Sjostrom, our web editor, understands it well. Linda has spent time reporting and editing for print and radio both in the United States and abroad. Here, a recent event prompts her to not only reflect on a story she covered in the past, but to also consider identity.
Just last month, a crowd gathered at the Miracle Empowerment Center to witness the crowning of Tamia Dakinah as Miss Liberia Minnesota 2010. In the same way, others across the country have or will name someone the Miss Liberia of their own state this year.
The title is, to me, an interesting one. Many of us are familiar with pageants like ‘Miss Minnesota’ and ‘Miss USA’ – roles that dub their bearers as representatives of one singular place. The title I’m thinking about now seems to hold quite a different meaning. Miss Liberia Minnesota. A representative – a part – of not one area, but two.
As I think this over, I think of the tens of thousands of people who are Liberian in my own state. What does it mean to identify as Liberian? What does it mean to identify as Minnesotan? And how do those dual roles play into each other, and into all of the other roles that encompass daily life?