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Miss America crowned with hate

September 20, 2013

Nina Davuluri, 2014 Miss America winner, receives backlash for ancestry

When Nina Davuluri was crowned the 2014 Miss America winner last Sunday in Atlantic City, she was the target of a vicious protest when Twitter was flooded with disrespectful and racial tweets about her ethnicity. As Miss New York, Davuluri was the first contestant of Indian Descent to win the pageant. The 24 year old was able to win the judges approval and even performed a Bollywood dance in the talent portion of the pageant. Even with the crown on her head and flowers in hand, Davuluri suffered from racial remarks via Twitter.

What should have been a defining moment of cultural diversity was met with ignorance and hate. People began attacking Davuluri on Twitter referring to her as “Muslim” or “Arab” and that she did not represent American values. Some people even went as far as calling her a “terrorist” and linking her to 9/11.

The Miss America winner is a woman who represents the United States no matter what her ethnicity. Davuluri is a Hindu American and the Twitter backlash against her shows that people are still unaccepting of other cultures within their own. In a Huffington Post Article, writer Sanjena Sathian said, “There are so many layers of wrong in peoples’ responses that I hardly want to deign this idiocy with an answer. There’s the obvious objection on factual grounds that she’s not Muslim, that that’s not equivalent to Arab, but the larger issue that if she were, people still have no right to racism.”

Duvulari’s crowning of Miss America has also stirred up the stereotypes of what a typical winner should look like. Many people were considering Miss Kansas Theresa Vail to be the front-runner. She is a member of the military, has blue eyes, blonde hair and one of the first contestants to openly display tattoos. When Vail did not win, people felt she was robbed and started attacking Davuluri. Apparently she did not encompass the stereotype of what they thought to be as an “American girl.”

Davuluri ran in the pageant on the platform, “Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency.” Something many of the people who attacked her Twitter could learn from. Though, even with the racist and demeaning tweets, she defended her position and held her head up high.  In an article published by the Associated Press, Davuluri said, “I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

Many people took Davuluri being named Miss America 2014 as a mistake because they associated the color of her skin with a culture they thought as negative. These extremely racist comments on Twitter are not in any way justifiable. The people who posted the anti-Muslim tweets completely missed the fact that Davuluri was Hindu American and not in any way Muslim. Though, back in the 2010 Miss USA Pageant, a girl of Muslim descent named Rima Fakih won the competition and nothing bad ever came from that.

Despite the fact that Davuluri was a victim of a Twitter backlash did not take away from her from winning the Miss America crown. She ran on the platform of diversity and now is an example of it. There is not a stereotypical representation of an American anymore; we come in different shapes, sizes and color. Ignorance of other people’s culture should not in anyway allow racism to play a role and deny someone the right to be considered American.

This year the pageant also featured two other contestants of Asian-American descent, Crystal Lee of California and Rebecca Yeh of Minnesota. Davuluri will do her duty as the Miss America winner and hopefully raise the awareness of how diverse this country actually is.

Alistair Ramsay
Contributing Writer

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