By George Flynn | Opinions Editor
Pageants are meant to be a happy time that comes with a tiara, flowers and applause to acknowledge the well rounded, beautiful women of today. However, this year was different: Nina Davuluri, 24 took the crown. Davuluri, Miss New York won the title of Miss America 2014 on Sept. 15 in Atlantic City, Nj., and instead of getting congratulated by the world, there was some backlash. The negative comments towards Davuluri were not about anything she did, but about her heritage and ethnicity; something she has no control over.
Davuluri is the first Miss America of Indian descent. Many view this as an exciting feat for the minority. “I’m so happy this organization embraced diversity,” said Davuluri in a quote from The Guardian. Many people agree that Davuluri being crowned as an Asian American is quite the achievement. However, many individuals view this accomplishment as an atrocity for this country, because of her race.
Individuals all over the country took to their Twitter feeds and made racial insults, bashing the pageant and bashing Davuluri as a woman of Indian descent. Examples of hateful tweets which Buzzfeed published consisting of “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic” and “This is America. Not India.” These racist and incredibly harmful tweets convey how some people in our society are opposed and react to the unfamiliar or unknown. Ignorant individuals view different races as people who are lower on the totem pole of society.
When Buzzfeed caught wind of these awful statements, they posted a lengthy roundup of the hateful things that were said on the social media site. Needless to say, many newsfeeds, including my own were covered in articles discussing the heinous racial internet scandal that involved the new Miss America. People harassed some of these individuals and others even made their accounts private due to harassment.
Luckily, Davuluri dismissed the unpleasant comments that surrounded her win and decided to focus on her glory. According to USA Today, she said “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”
It’s a great thing that Davuluri was able to walk away from such a horrendous situation with grace and poise, but what about the awful racist remarks? The issue at hand is not only racism, but ethnic Americans being viewed as non-Americans.
Due to her Indian descent, a tweet was posted which mocked her skin color and accused her of being a member of Al Qaeda. One user posted “Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?” as another person posted “More like Miss Terrorist #MissAmerica”. Whether these accusations were serious statements or forms of uncouth and tasteless humor, it is rude and inappropriate to say such things. These harmful threats to her appearance as Miss America and as an individual are unfair and incredibly discriminatory. She is an American, her race should not have anything to do with the title she rightfully won.
Many other Americans were outraged by her win being so close to the 12th anniversary of 9/11, which was only four days earlier. On Twitter, people announced their disdain discussing the lack of respect the competition had for the country. This should not have been an issue. She had nothing to do with the events that took place twelve years ago. Her ethnicity should not be a correlation to the horrific day which ruined many lives. Being a New Yorker herself, this is most definitely adding insult to injury.
According to Parade magazine, Davuluri was born in Syracuse, NY and she attended the University of Michigan. With her scholarship she won in the competition, and is applying to medical school to pursue her dreams of becoming a cardiologist. It does not mean she is not American because she is of Indian descent. She is a citizen of America and should be viewed as that. She is without a doubt the type of American woman that deserves to be Miss America without any backlash.
Davuluri should be proud of what she accomplished as a woman of Indian descent and as an American. According to Parade, before she won, she stood with Miss California, Crystal Lee (who happens to be of Asian descent) and said “We’re both so proud. We’re making history right here, standing as Asian Americans.” It is nice to see a Miss America that represents Indian heritage. She is someone that small children can look to.
Nothing stopped Davuluri from getting her crown, not even racism.
George Flynn is a senior English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.