Less than two weeks ago, Madison Anderson was crowned Miss Puerto Rico 2019. What should have been a thrilling time for the 23-year-old also came with some backlash because some people felt she wasn’t Puerto Rican enough. The beauty queen was born and raised in Arizona and raised in Florida. She has a caucasian dad and a Puerto Rican mom. According to Latino Rebels, her father “is a bondholder who brings investors to the Caribbean.” The issue that concerned viewers was that Anderson’s Spanish isn’t perfect. Soon after she won, #NoMeRepresenta began circulating on Twitter.
Anderson is now addressing her struggles to learn and speak Spanish. In an interview with Pégate al Medio Día for Wapa TV, Anderson said she practices learning Spanish diligently.
“It was hard, especially when it came to the language, but I’m so happy with the work I’ve done,” Madison said, according to Hola! magazine. She added that she worked on Spanish with just about anyone. “Yes, [I practiced] with everyone,” she said. “With my family, people on the street, even when I needed to order [at a restaurant]. Even things that are so easy, I wanted to practice, and it helped me so much.”
Anderson added that Latinas who don’t speak Spanish shouldn’t be discouraged and should see her achievement as motivation to keep working at learning their native language.
“Yes, but I’m demonstrating that I’m an example that nothing is impossible. You can achieve anything.”
When Anderson was crowned Miss Universe Puerto Rico, judge Alba Reyes had to address the backlash from Anderson’s crowning when some said the pageant was rigged because of her father’s financial ties to the island.
Reyes said that “such allegations are otherwise alien to the reality prior to the constitution of the jury and otherwise false in terms of the deliberative process of the jury,” according to Latino Rebels.
But Anderson tells skeptics that just because she wasn’t born in Puerto Rico or speaks Spanish perfectly, that shouldn’t make her any less Puerto Rican.
Former Miss Universe Denise Quiñones reiterated that point in an Instagram message saying that Anderson win is “reminding us all, what we already know…That PR is in the blood and in the heart, and there is no one who really feels Boricua, that can impose a degree to our Puerto Ricanness.”