Belgian beauty queen Angeline Flor Pua, who was crowned Miss Belgium 2018 on Saturday, has already received a slew of racist messages questioning her heritage.
Ik presenteer jullie: (een paar uur) #MissBelgië 2018 en al mikpunt van racisme en haatdragende uitspraken.
— Christina De Witte (@itschrostin) January 14, 2018
Pua, who has a Chinese father and Filipina mother, was born in the Belgian city of Antwerp, where her parents met. She was awarded the title of “Miss Antwerp” last September, paving the way for her to compete in the Miss Belgium competition.
Saturday’s win will allow her to represent her country in the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants later this year. Her hobbies include baking and traveling, and the queen is currently training to become a pilot.
The 22-year-old’s win marked an incredible achievement in her life, and the following few days should have been filled with happiness and celebration; instead, Pua has been forced to contend with hateful people who would question her nationality.
“I’ve heard about the negative comments,” she said in an interview with BBC. “Of course, it hurts a lot to read those things about myself because I know those things are not true. I can show my ID, my birth certificate to prove that I am a Belgian.”
When asked if she had faced such racism growing up, Pua replied that she hadn’t. “Never — that’s why I’m very shocked about the news happening these few days because I’ve never been confronted with those topics. I’ve always been accepted by the people at work, at school, everywhere.”
Luckily, most people are lending their support instead of adding to the racist comments, and for that, Pua is grateful. “Racism is a very sensitive subject. It’s not only in Belgium, I think it’s worldwide.”
Not letting the racism get to her, she offered a positive outlook and comfort to those in similar situations. “We are facing [racism] today and I am a victim of it as you can see, but to the people who are victims of it, you know the best of yourself. You should not feel sorry because you should be proud of who you are or what you are or where you come from.”
“You are still a human [being] with a good heart. Just remember that.”
Watch the interview in full here: