September 11, 2001, was a tragic day in American history that left the United States crippled–and neither the country nor its citizens have been the same since. As years progressed, the wound of the initial attacks slowly healed, but the scar of that tragedy has remained engraved upon the hearts of many Americans. Twelve years later we see just how profound that scar is, when Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was announced the first Miss America titleholder of Indian descent. The beauty pageant winner was met with open hostility from Americans across the nation proclaiming that she was undeserving of the title due to her Indian heritage. Twitter and other social media outlets were blowing up with imbecilic and offensive tweets calling the beauty pageant winner a “terrorist” and “Miss 7/11”. Some were livid that an Indian-American was being represented as the face of America and not an “American,” while others found that it was a slap in the face for the people affected by the 9/11 tragedy with its 12-year anniversary just four days previously. The new Miss America winner handled these venomous comments with grace, stating in her first news conference, “I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American” (Ann Oldenburg–USA Today).
Davuluri disregarded these comments with ease and though she handled it in a sophisticated manner it doesn’t set aside the fact that the comments were uncalled for. Being of an Indian descent, it is very disheartening for me to see that even 12 years later such crude, negative racial prejiduce still exists. I was delighted when I first heard the news that an Indian-American woman was crowned Miss America. That initial delight soon faded, though, as the negative remarks ignited media headlines and newsfeeds. It was beyond upsetting to see such bitterness towards my culture but what was more upsetting was seeing also my fellow Americans disregard Nina Davuluri as just that–an American. For these narrow-minded folks I question that if being an American citizen let alone an American BORN citizen isn’t one of the qualifications for being an “American,” then what is? What truly constitutes for being an American? Surely, it isn’t defined by the pigment of one’s skin, because if that was the case then the Caucasian citizens of Russia, Australia, and the entire European continent MUST be American. No, rather what distinguishes an American is not the color of the skin, but the liberating mindset and values of freedom, equality, pride and patriotism. So long as these core values thrive within the individual it matters not what the exterior vessel beholds. The un-American people, therefore, are those very same people who benightedly denounced Miss America, Nina Davuluri of her title. These are the people who have failed to grasp the full scale of equality and diversity and as a result have failed to grasp the true concept of being an American.
Nina Davuluri held true to her title with grace and poise by dismissing these offensive remarks, nonetheless it is exasperating for the knowledgeable minds of this country to witness the uneducated defaming the name of America through racial discrimination. To the rest of the world the United States is portrayed as a mixing pot, glorified by its diversity and harboring people from all walks of life. Though a good majority of the American people embrace and flaunt this diversity, the stagnant minded minority annihilates any progression made by the previous. The reality is that the landscape for the American image has been changing throughout the years and will continue to do so, however the ideas of equality and freedom remain integrated and part of the American mindset from the very birth of this country. We as a nation have already embarked on the journey and crossed international borders in politics, media, and culture.
–opinion article by KRISHNA PATEL