Study Guide

Beauty Queens Race

By Libba Bray

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There are only two non-white Miss Teen Dream contestants: Shanti and Nicole. You might think that would bond them, but actually, it does the opposite. Shanti sees Nicole as her competition, because history tells her the judges won't let two people of color into the top five. It's a messed-up thing to know.

It takes quicksand and some real talk for them to overcome their difference, and after that, they stand with each other. They even expose the truth about how badly The Corporation treated the native people from the island. And maybe make everyone just a little bit less comfortable believing a bunch of stereotypes.

Questions About Race

  1. Why does Shanti think the audience will respond better to an immigrant story than to her true background?
  2. What is the significance of the three sassy Black sidekicks in Nicole's hallucination?
  3. Why does Nicole feel that she needs to put white people at ease when she meets them?
  4. Why do Shanti and Nicole initially say that the pageant isn't racist?

Chew on This

The reason Shanti initially resents Nicole has more to do with racism in the pageant than Nicole herself.

Nicole's hallucination is all about how there aren't enough roles for Black women in Hollywood.

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