Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan Did A Decent-ish Job Talking About Race

Last night, in steamy Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a nice girl named Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA. Before she got that tiara, however, she and her other contestants had to endure the interview portion of the beauty pageant. This is a fun segment in which a bunch of relatively nervous and very shiny young women field questions about topics as varied as world peace, fracking and American imperialism.

For example, behold, this gem of an answer, from Miss South Carolina in 2007’s Teen USA pageant:

It is also the segment that birthed this trainwreck, although in her defense, she is wearing very heavy earrings, is probably exhausted and the question is worded very strangely:

So, when the interview portion rolled around during this year’s pageant, it’s no surprise that race was the topic. Beauty pageants are the kind of environment where any answer other than a benign platitude that sits firmly on the fence will hurt your chances of winning. So, when faced with relatively difficult, “hardball” questions about race, under immense amounts of pressure, shiny lights and the weight of four cans of AquaNet atop their head, a lot of these women floundered.

When asked about how to improve race relations in America, Miss Nevada, Brittany McGowan, gave a non-answer about bringing people together. Miss Rhode Island, Anea Garcia, panicked when she was asked about Jerry Seinfeld’s complaints about political correctness. And our newly crowned Miss USA, Olivia Jordan, handled her very tricky question as well as she could:

Q: “The Confederate flag, excessive force by police and same-sex marriage are all recent hot-button issues in our country. What do you think will be the next that we need to tackle on a national level?”

A: “I think that we still need to talk about race relations in this country. We have not solved this issue. We are still having problems and we keep hearing about new issues that are coming up. We really need to work on being an accepting society and be a society where every single person, no matter your race, no matter your gender, is given the same rights and privileges and opportunities.”

Is the answer relatively toothless? Yes. It lacks some of the fire the question deserves, but it at least dips its toe on the right side of the fence. Given the amount of nerves and adrenaline racing through these women, she handled it like a champ — a rarity in these pageants. So for that, Olivia, congrats.