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First Indian-American Crowned Miss America
The Miss America pageant crowned their first Indian-American in their last ceremony, Nina Davuluri, who studied brain behavior and cognitive science at the University of Michigan. Nina was the second consecutive New York beauty queen to win the title, but the first Indian-American, and won on a platform, naturally enough, of “Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency,” and represented America by dancing a fusion dance that mingled Indian traditional dance with Bollywood moves choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan. Though many have been hostile that “Miss America” should be a woman whose talents include dance moves from India, this at least is not a contradiction in a nation that prides itself on cultural diversity, and the consciousness of our global heritage, as America is a “melting pot” and is a fusion of cultures derived from the immigrants to our country.
Not that this sat well with all audience members. “If you’re #MissAmerica you should have to be American,” one woman tweeted, and others have even called her Muslim and associated her with terrorism.
Another complaint was that Miss Kansas, the tattooed, bow-hunting, Theresa Vail, who won the online viewers vote, lost for the wrong reasons, with Fox News commentator Todd Starnes tweeting “The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica.”
“I’m not a racist. She is representing America doing an Indonesia dance. If it was a Miss Universe pageant it would have been cool,” said one tweeter, mixing up India with Indonesia. Clearly both are equally foreign to her and to what she accepts as American values.
Despite the backlash over Miss America’s foreignness, she has said that “I have to rise above that,” and also said she always viewed herself as” first and foremost American.” That seems rather fitting, to say the least, considering the nature and purpose of the contest; though expecting social and political justice from a beauty contest might be expecting too much.