By Lauren Lane
All around the country, tons of little girls dream of being crowned Miss America, thinking one day they will get to stand before the world and show everyone why they should represent America and serve as a role model to thousands.
I have no doubt that Nina Davuluri, crowned Miss America 2014 on Sunday, Sept. 15, had these same desires as a young girl, and I also have no doubt that in all of her wildest dreams, Davuluri never thought people would be so concerned by her heritage to publicly say racist and hurtful comments.
Nina Davuluri was born to her two loving parents in Syracuse, New York, 24 years ago. She moved around America to places like Oklahoma and Michigan, but after attending University of Michigan and graduating with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, she moved back to her hometown of Syracuse along with her family.
In 2013 she was crowned both Miss Syracuse and Miss New York, then moved on to compete in and win the Miss America 2014 pageant.
Reading the bio provided, does Davuluri not sound exactly like most any other American? It sounds like almost the same life plenty of my friends have, plus a few crowns here and there.
However, while she might seem like a fitting and perfectly normal and average American representative, Twitter exploded once her win was announced. While they should have all been tweets and comments of congratulations to this beautiful and smart young woman, they were hurtful and racist, and in some cases completely inaccurate.
“And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic” writes @Granvil_Colt, and @jakeamick5 wrote “How the [expletive] does a foreigner win Miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots”. Along with countless others, these two were incredibly false in their Arab accusations, seeing as Davuluri was born from Telgu parents who emigrated from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India.
As well as being racially incorrect, it is very evident that they did not pay enough attention to grammar in their English classes, or in their tweets.
More tweets went on to question why, if she is Indian, she won an American contest. Saying things like “Miss New York is an Indian…With all do respect, this is America” (@savannah_dale97) is not only insensitive, but ignores the fact that everyone at some point has had emigrants in their family.
Unless you have only had Native Americans in your family since humans first began roaming the Earth, you have some sort of mixture of people from different races, heritages, and ethnicities in your family tree.
Since Davuluri was born and raised by parents who came here legally from India, she is an American citizen and is no less American than millions of other people living in the United States.
I think one of the worst arguments against Nina Davuluri was a collage picture of Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. It is a set of four pictures showing her first in military gear with the caption “loves her country,” followed by a picture of her firing a bow and arrow captioned “loves hunting,” followed by a picture of her in a bikini showing off her abdomen tattoo captioned “loves tattoos,” finishing with a picture of her being crowned Miss Kansas captioned “real Miss America.”
One outstanding part of living in America is that you have the freedom to be who you want to be and still be able to consider yourself an American. There is no one that is a real American compared to a fake American, just as no one is more American than anyone else.
If we were to judge everyone by the criteria set by the creator of this picture collage of Vail, I would just barely make the “real” version of an American. I love my country, but I have never been hunting and I neither have any nor would say I love tattoos.
We are all entitled to an opinion and the freedom of speech, but we should still do a better job with what we say in the future.
Be factual with your words and educated about your subject before you say something like @JPLman95’s tweet “Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11,” which is not only incredibly racist, but can also hurt a lot of people.