Miss USA draws backlash for mocking English-speaking skills of Asian competitors in Miss Universe 2018 race

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Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers was forced to apologise after insensitive comments she made about the English-speaking skills of some of her Asian counterparts in the Miss Universe 2018 race sparked backlash online.

In an incriminating video posted to social media, Summers can be seen and heard mocking Miss Cambodia Nat Rern and Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie as Miss Australia Francesca Hung and Miss Colombia Valeria Morales join in, laughing.

On Nie, Summers said: “She’s so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes,” before mimicking a confused nod and smile.

Moving on to Rern, Summers said: “Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language.” Morales added: “Yes.”

Summers then goes on to say: “Could you imagine? Like Francesca said, that would be so isolating and I said yes, and I mean, just so confusing all the time,” before she tells Morales, “You do speak great English.”

Summers comments triggered a massive backlash online. The Nebraska native subsequently apologised for her comments on social media. She wrote:

“Miss Universe is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another.

“In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman.

“I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me.”

Miss Colombia did not make a statement. While Miss Australia also did not make a statement, Troy Barbagallo, the director of Pink Tank Events that runs the Miss Universe Australia Pageant, defended that half-Chinese Francesa is “far from a bully”.

Indignant over the bullying allegations, Troy told the local press:

“She is publicly against [bullying], she grew up in Australia as half-Chinese, achieved great things and has since been using her new role as an advocate for acceptance of cultural diversity.

“Regarding the incident, we have spoken the girls involved and MUO management. The bullying accusations are unfounded and almost bullying against the accused.”

Miss Philippines Catriona Gray subsequently won the Miss Universe 2018 race. She was crowned the winner last weekend in Thailand, on 17 Dec.