Using her hairstyle and social media platforms, Zozibini Tunzi is calling out racism and challenging perceptions of beauty
Johannesburg - When Zozibini Tunzi marched in the Black Lives Matter protests in New York City, the latest Miss Universe kept thinking how young people in her native South Africa died fighting for the same cause 44 years ago.
"South African students were marching against systemic racism," said Tunzi, 26, recalling the 1976 Soweto Uprising when tens of thousands of students protested against apartheid laws that segregated and controlled the black majority.
"So many years later, that's still happening, not only in South Africa, but across the world," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview from New York, where she is spending her year as Miss Universe.
As one of only a handful of black women to have won the title, Tunzi was intending to use her influence to challenge racism, inequality and perceptions of beauty even before the Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the United States.
Hair might seem a relatively trivial issue, but Tunzi recalled how in 2016, 13-year-old Zulaikha Patel led protests against a demand by her school that black students cut their natural afro hairstyles.