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Chandra says that she had a defining moment during a beauty pageant when she was just 6 years old. "After I finished my little runway time, I came off the stage and one of the other white contestants said, 'You know you're not going to win.' I said, 'How do you know?' And she said, 'Because you're a nigger.'

"So I went back and I said, 'Mom, the girl just told me I wasn't going to win because I'm a nigger.' And my mom said, 'No, you're not going to win because you left that whole middle section out, the lines. We had rehearsed that!'"

Chandra proved both of them wrong by taking the top prize at the pageant. "The thing that, that taught me was, first of all, that word doesn't mean anything, obviously, because I'm standing there with the trophy," she says. "But it also said I don't even have to be perfect. … [I have] what I have and that's good enough."
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FROM: Children Ashamed of the Way They Look
Published on January 01, 2006

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