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Miss Universe Canada 2020 contestant Nova Stevens has spoken out against the racist cyberbullying she is facing on her social media accounts while urging her fans to “spread love, not hate”.
On Tuesday, Stevens, who was born in Kenya to Sudanese parents but moved to Canada when she was six, shared a photo of some of the derogatory comments that she has been receiving on her Instagram.
The post sees a picture of Stevens with screenshots of the messages, many of which are in Filipino, laid on top, with the beauty pageant winner reflecting on the hateful comments in the caption.
“Here we go again. I’ve been receiving this picture in my inbox a lot lately,” Stevens wrote. “With all that has been going on in the world ‘Black lives matter’ ‘Asians are human’ you would think this would bring us together.
“Instead, it looks like some people are still stuck in their ignorant and racist ideologies.”
The model then went on to explain that she is “really disappointed” with beauty pageant contestants in certain countries for leaving the comments,which refer to her as “scary” and “burnt”.
“Your hate takes away the fun and enjoyment from this once in a lifetime experience. Is it really that difficult to spread love instead of hate?” Stevens continued. “No one is saying you HAVE to support all contestants, all we’re saying is that you support your delegate without bringing others down. You don’t need to dim someone’s light in order for you to shine.”
The beauty pageant contestant, who will represent Canada atMiss Universe 2020, concluded the post reminding her followers that the “world is evolving” and “people are realising that beauty is not exclusive to one specific group of people”.
“The definition of beauty applies to all; because beauty can be seen in different shapes, shades and sizes. Please see the beauty that is in this world,” she wrote. “We don’t need to look the same, we just need to treat each other the same.”
In an edit to the caption added after, Stevens clarified that she does not think that all Filipinos are racist, and that she did not mean for her post to be a generalisation.
Stevens also said that she is “well aware that there are multiple countries that think this way,” before encouraging her followers to think of the post as a teaching moment “so that we can make pageants fun and enjoyable for all”.
“All the girls competing have worked hard for this moment and deserve to have the best experience. Cheer for your girls with love and respect for the other delegates because they too are deserving of the ‘Miss Universe’ crown,” she concluded. “Spread love not hate.”
In a follow-up post, showing a similar photo of herself but featuring positive comments from individuals living in the Philippines, the 26-year-old apologised to any Filipinos that she may have offended, while acknowledging that she had meant to use the original post only to highlight some of the cyberbullying she faced.
The screenshots include supportive messages such as: “Sending my love from the Philippines,” and “You are beautiful. Love from Philippines.”
In the caption, the model also asked her fans and followers to avoid responding to the hate with more hate, writing: “The last thing I want is for anyone to experience hate.”
Stevens then expressed her hope that the post would be the last one she or any other pageant queens have to post about hate or negativity.
“Let’s get back to spreading love, celebration and making pageants fun for all!” she wrote, adding: “I love you all. Sending you all lots of love and light.”
Following Stevens’ Instagram, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo also urged her fans not to engage in cyberbullying, according to CNN, which notes that the beauty pageant contestant said Stevens’ post made her “really sad” during a virtual media conference on Wednesday.
“It makes me really sad. I saw the post of Nova earlier and I really feel sorry [for] her because nobody deserves to be in that position,” Mateo said.
The Miss Universe 2020 pageant is set to take place on 16 May in Florida.