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Miss America 2014 "Rises Above" Negativity

On September 16, 2013

Controversial comments litter the internet immediately after Nina Davuluri wins the Miss America 2014 crown as the first winner of Indian descent Sunday night.

This year Nina Daluvuri took home the crown. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan and has decided to use her scholarship money to attend medical school. Davuluri entered the pageant as Miss New York with the platform “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency”.

Daluvuri performed a Bollywood dance piece, which was another first for Miss America. She missed her cue to go on stage three times, but still received quite a few cheers following her performance.

A substantial number would have opted for tattoo bearing, Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. She was winner of ABC’s online poll of America’s Choice Award and top ten of Sunday night’s pageant. Harsh and seemingly racist words pertaining to Davuluri’s heritage were posted across the internet.

Many people discussed their disgust or approval on the topic via twitter and other social network. Evidently, the term “liberal” has been used in a negative light by host of Fox News and Commentator, Todd Starnes who goes under the twitter name, @toddstarnes.

“The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica,” said Starnes. Many agreed with him, seeing as his tweet received almost 300 retweets and 177 favorites. According to Starnes, American values involve toting guns, hunting deer, and using a bow and arrows.

The next day posted on the Fox News website that he tweets were not directed towards Miss New York, but to Miss Kansas.

Other tweets accused Daluvuri of not being an American citizen, referring to her as “Miss Al-Qaeda”. According to the Miss America website, one cannot compete in the pageant unless they are a citizen of America along with other guidelines. All of which are fulfilled by Daluvuri. The inaccuracy and ignorant comments have stunned the public.

LA Times writer, Robin Abacrian, questioned whether or not people should be shocked about all the racial, stereotypical, and inaccurate remarks. “Does the unmediated glimpse of the Neanderthal brain afforded by Twitter really shock us? Or do we just pretend…so we can feel superior to these yahoos. Those would have been good questions for the Miss America Pageant.”

The majority of the winners of Miss America in the past 56 years have been blonde haired women, but a number of minority women have won the title. The first was singer and actress, Vanessa Williams in 1984. This pageant has a history of having a wide variety of differences between contestants. In 1995 Heather Whitestone won as the first deaf contestant. Angela Perez-Baraquio was crowned Miss America as the first Asian-American.

Miss USA is also a supporter of diversity. In 2010, Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA 2010. Fakih was born in South Governorate, Lebanon. There was light media coverage on the fact that she is a Muslim woman, but did not receive as much attention as Davuluri.

Former Miss Texas Contestant, Whitney Wylie said: Everyone spoke about Miss Kansas breaking barriers because of her tattoos and army background and totally ignored that Nina [Davuluri] and Miss California,Crystal Lee were both breaking barriers." she said, "People are making a huge controversy out of nothing."

 

Davuluri responded to the criticism: “I have to rise above that, I always viewed myself as first and foremost American,” she said. She was born in New York and her parents are originally from India.

Her first official order of business as Miss America took place in New Jersey to help with the Seaside Heights boardwalk fire.

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