Racists across the country made their voices heard when they viciously attacked the first Indian-American Miss America pageant winner on social media after she won Sept. 16.
“If you’re #MissAmerica you should have to be American,” one tweet read.
Others labeled winner Nina Davuluri a “dot head,” “Arab,” “Muslim extremist” and various ignorant names that were in no way accurate.
But the fact that an Indian-American woman was crowned isn’t simply a secular victory over racism. As a Christian university, we should be celebrating that the Miss America pageant, which started nearly a century ago, is evolving to represent more and more what the Kingdom of God should look like.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male nor female, for WE are all one in Christ Jesus,” reads Galatians 3:28.
Granted, not everyone may agree with my contextual use of this verse, but I believe it to be fitting.
Davuluri responded to the hateful comments with the upmost grace in an interview with “Fox & Friends.”
“A lot of that stemmed from ignorance and that is why my platform is so timely right now. I am promoting the cause celebrating diversity through cultural competency, and it’s so relevant and I’m so proud to have this amazing microphone to be able to speak about that,” Davuluri said.
According to the Miss America organization’s website, the pageant began in 1921 and was intended to uphold the ideals of what it meant to be a great American woman.
“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate,” said Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Frederick Hickman more than 75 years ago.
Davuluri is a perfect example of all of those ideals. As the United States evolves into a more diverse nation, it is only natural that eventually the Miss America pageant winners would likewise change.
“I have always viewed Miss America as the girl next door, but for me the girl next door is evolving as the diversity in America evolves,” Davuluri said on “Fox & Friends.” “She’s not who she was 10 years ago, and she’s not going to be the same person come 10 years down the road,”
This small diversity achievement reminds one of 1983, when actress and singer Vanessa Williams got her start as the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America.
According to an article published by the Huffington Post, Williams also experienced hate mail and racist comments when she was crowned the first black Miss America.
To know some things have yet to change 30 years later, especially when it comes to the ignorance of ethnicity and race, is quite disappointing. All the more, it is thrilling to know that Miss America is able to rise above such hate and ignorance and use that for good.
As an ethnically diverse woman myself, I think it is a huge success for Davuluri to have won the pageant. This is not only because she is breaking a stereotype of what it means to be Miss America, but also she is representing our nation with her ethnic background and educating people to the importance of diversity.