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Ponnada: Hating Miss America

BY SRI PONNADA | SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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I normally don’t pay much attention to beauty contests — I don’t think they are very relevant. But I can’t ignore this year’s Miss America pageant, especially given the backlash it has evoked from many (rather ignorant) members of our society.

For the first time in, well, ever, an Indian-American woman — Nina Davuluri — was crowned Miss America.

Being a woman of color from the very same state in India that Davuluri’s parents are from and as a woman who speaks Telugu (the language her family speaks), I have to admit that I’m damn proud of her victory. At the same time, I am outraged by the way people reacted to having a Miss America who isn’t white.

After her win, racists flooded Twitter with angry tweets in which they mixed up Davuluri’s Indian ethnicity with everything from “Arab” to “Muslim.”

“I am literarily soo mad right now a ARAB [racist emoji] won #MissAmerica,” one tweet read.

The author of this tweet wasn’t even intelligent enough to know that “a” wasn’t the proper article to be used in front of “Arab.” That in itself can speak for the level of ignorance in which these people dwell.

Others went as far as to call the young woman a terrorist.

“It’s called Miss America. Get outta here New York you look like a terrorist.”

I suppose she looks like a terrorist because she has brown skin? Or maybe it’s because her family comes from another country? According to our Twitter friends who cloak themselves in anonymity, Davuluri’s colored skin and immigrant origins are not only synonymous with being a member of Al Qaeda but also antonymous with being “American.”

My favorite tweet: “Don’t you have to be American to win Miss AMERICA this bitch is some type of Indian.”

It’s ironic because Davuluri was actually born in Syracuse, N.Y. In fact, you can’t even enter the Miss America pageant without having been born in America — you can’t be the president of the country, either. (That’s for the person who tweeted, “We have a black president and an Asian Miss America. This ain’t Merica no more guys.”)

This all raises the question: What does it even mean to be American?

From the reactions of people on Twitter and the comparisons being made of Davuluri to her worthy opponent, Miss Kansas, it seems that being “American” is to be white, blonde, and blue-eyed.

But that’s not what being “American” is. And that’s not what our Miss America should be about.

This is a country that prides itself on valuing diversity and acceptance. Being “American” doesn’t mean being of a certain race, class, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or profession. At least, that’s what I thought.

I guess that’s why this entire situation is so disappointing to me. It’s aggravating to see, in this day and age, that there is still a multitude of moronic individuals who are incapable of understanding and embracing difference.

And that’s why Davuluri is the perfect Miss America right now. Not only is she incredibly beautiful, intelligent, and talented and possesses a lot of other wonderful qualities, she also shows that being “American” is a lot more than being white or non-immigrant.

To those people who are still in their stupid shell and who continue to spew words of hatred and contempt: Get over it. There’s nothing you can do about it.

She’s freaking Miss America, do you think she cares?


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