New Miss America met with intolerant tweets

Miss New York Nina Davuluri poses for photographers following her crowning as Miss America 2014, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Atlantic City, N.J.
September 16, 2013 6:58:52 PM PDT
The selection of New York's Nina Davuluri as the new Miss America is a reflection of the growing diversity of America. But some people's reaction on social media reflected an undercurrent of intolerance and misunderstanding of her ethnic heritage.

As tears of joy began flowing down Miss America's face, the reality began to hit Americans that ethnic heritage is seemingly not an issue.

"People are now accepting not based on their ethnic background," Indian American college student Kamaljeet Nijar said. "They're voting for that she's American."

However, posts on social media began to reflect either intolerance or misunderstanding. One entry labeled her a terrorist. Another, an Arab. In reality, Davuluri is U.S. born of Indian descent. She is the daughter of an immigrant who is a gynecologist.

"It shows, you know, how far we have come and how much we have to go still because there are always going to be like ignorant people in any sort of group, you know," San Jose State University junior Maie Alyed said.

In response to the tweets, Davuluri said, "I have to rise about that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."

Dr. Mehir Meghani, the Fremont-based co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, says it's a day of celebration, but also a day to address hatred.

"While we celebrate this, we want to make sure that we continue to work to make sure this kind of racist attitudes don't remain in society because if they remain, it's going to make people feel that they're not a part of the country," Meghani said.

"I'm of Middle Eastern descent and I consider myself American," San Jose State senior John Sepassi said. "A lot of people that may be white, might be African American, they consider themselves American so I don't think there's a definition of what an American has to be anymore."

However, one woman says some people continue to harbor intolerance.

"I do think there is, unfortunately," San Jose State senior Kayla Clarot said. "I do think it's getting better, but it's still lingering."

The hope is that the selection of the new Miss America will be a learning experience for those people not familiar with the cultures of South Asia and of Indian Americans.


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