Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American (and only the second of Asian descent) to win the pageant. Despite her achievements, the poor woman has had to contend with much-cited racism and denouncement.
She was referred to as “the Arab,” by some and other commenters noted “This is America, not India.” One called her “Miss 7-11.”
There were those who huffed about it being inappropriately close to 9/11.
Some mentioned ties to al-Qaeda and at least one flat-out called her a terrorist.
Feel free to click the link and see some stomach-churning examples for yourself.
My personal favorite is the quip, “This is America, not India.” Setting aside the fact that — shockingly — most Americans are not originally from America, I’m sure our indigenous people had a similar line of thinking throughout our history.
This is yet another disturbing example of the cultural, historical, and geographical ignorance of many Americans, to say nothing of their narrow definition of what constitutes “American” — white-looking, through and through. Such a mentality is anathema to the founding principles of this nation, which although marred by the realities of slavery and indigenous exclusion, nonetheless reflect an inclusive and transcend ideal of nationhood.
There is nothing about this woman, or any nonwhite and/or foreign-born person, that makes them any less Americans, or any trustworthy, valuable, and dignified. Heaven forbid that we reflect the fundamental American values of equality and fairness by having someone who isn’t a WASP reach social, political, or public prominence — even in a venue as tepid as Miss America.
I’m happy that she reportedly seems to be taking it all in stride (maybe she saw it coming). While I don’t care much for these pageants, I certainly don’t think their participants deserved to be savaged for their appearance or ethnicity, especially when it’s a positive step to see more people of color represented in prominent venues. I’m also pleased to see far more backlash against this bigotry than support, which is a nice reminder of the better side of our nation.
Interestingly, the runner up was of Chinese ancestry, who I’m sure would have been subject to stupid comments as well (albeit perhaps not as vitriolic, since Asians are often perceived to be “better foreigners” than their “Arab-looking” counterparts).