Pageant Win Sends Shockwaves

September 26, 2013 Op-Eds, Opinion

The new Miss America sparks controversy on the Twitter-sphere. Tweets reveal racial slurs expressing viral America’s discontent of a woman of Indian descent bearing the coveted tiara.

The glittering 741 Austrian crystals of Miss America iconography had barely grazed the top of Nina Davuluri’s perfectly coiffed head before racist tweets and an overall tumultuous uproar began bombarding the Twitter-sphere. Last Sunday night marked the second consecutive year for a New York bombshell to take the Miss America title, but it was the first time in the history of the competition for an Indian-American to wear the nationally coveted diadem.

Comments ranged from anti-Arab sentiment such as “Why the hell is there a terrorist dancing at the Miss. AMERICA pageant?”Kloeppel, Beau (beau-kloeppel) , “Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.” Unknown, (@Blayne_MkItRain), to anti-Indian comments such as “Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.” Unkown,(@Jay_Patrick95) and “Only reason she won is bc her people said they would lower gas prices” Robinson, Dallas (@DallasRobinson8). These racist comments were not only disturbing but completely unfounded, while also making it blatantly obvious that our education system has wholly failed the population in regards to geography. Sorry to break it to you, Mr. Blayne_MkItRain, but India is not in fact part of the Middle East. Perhaps with your purported affluence that your clever screen name so aptly suggests, you can purchase a map (I’m sure Chastity down at the strip club won’t miss you).

Nina Davaluri is not of Arab descent (and, quite frankly, why would it matter if she was?). She was born in Syracuse, New York after her father, a physician, emigrated from India. She then moved to Michigan and subsequently attended the University of Michigan, earning a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, where she plans to use her $50,000 in scholarship winnings to pursue a career as a physician. Nina Davaluri is just as American as Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, a sergeant in the Army National Guard and the first contestant to show off tattoos during the swimsuit competition. Why then is Miss Kansas being put on this pedestal as a “true” American? Surely not every young woman in the United States fits that highly specific archetype. The U.S., a country purportedly founded on diversity, the proverbial “melting pot” – despite this, it perpetuates a culture of anti-intellectualism and ignorance by endorsing “selective” diversity yet showing a preference for one look that is not attainable by everyone. And why should everyone want to be tan, blonde, and blue-eyed? Not to take away from Ms. Vail’s achievements, because they are substantial, but she is not the only example of a true American woman.

This begs the question: what do we consider to be “truly” American? Should I not claim to be American because I am not an active member of the military or that my father, like Nina Davaluri’s, was not born in the United States? If anything, you can argue that Nina Davaluri and her family’s story is the epitome of the “American Dream.” Leaving their home country to start a new life in the United States and thriving here is the essense of what our nation was founded on; yet, the racially-charged public outbursts such as the attacks that occurred on Sunday night do not substantiate the claim that we live in a post-racial society or even value our diverse roots as a country.

Davaluri has not allowed the negativity to spoil her accomplishment of a life-long dream and dove into her first day on the job as Miss America, posing for photographers on the shores of Atlantic City. “I’m just really so honored,” the dark-haired beauty stated in a live video appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. During her year as Miss America, she will work with the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. and serve as a spokesperson for STEM. Davaluri has proven herself to be an exceptional young woman, brushing off her attackers with the statement, “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

 

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

About Kaitlyn Alkass

Kaitlyn Alkass 15' is a Staff Writer at The Sandspur and studying English at Rollins College. Her previous internships include Where Orlando, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and What's Up UK.

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