EDITORIAL: Miss America is what ‘American’ has been about all along

When Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America on Sept. 11, the wave of social media controversy started almost immediately. Hundreds of racists took to Twitter to call the New York-born, Indian American medical-student-to-be a “terrorist,” “Miss Al Qaeda,” and “Miss 7–11.” Honestly, this sort of reaction has become so commonplace that it’s not even surprising.  

Davuluri’s story might be one of the most American stories in existence. Her parents emigrated from India to the United States for better opportunities. Davuluri grew up in New York, Oklahoma, and Michigan. But when the image of an “American” girl is changed a little bit? Apparently, she’s not American.

This has happened before — notably with President Barack Obama and NFL Team owner Shahid Khan.

Things are getting better though. The backlash, while horrible, was met with an even greater second backlash. It’s obvious that the United States is not yet a post-racial country, but it’s getting there, if slowly. The “American” image is changing, whether through pageants such as Miss America, political office, or through major media.

Being American has never meant one single thing. The American image has changed constantly as more and more people come to the United States searching for a better life.

Being a child of immigrants who visits her homeland every year, as Davuluri did growing up, is just as American as growing up in the mountains of Appalachia, or the concrete jungle of New York. Davuluri, on her part, has been more than cordial about the comments. “I have to rise above that,” she said to the Associated Press about the racist comments.

“I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.” (end)

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