Who is “actually” Miss America?

*Put this up over at The Stake, but though it would fit well over here, too. Enjoy. *

There are times in the United States when the unsavory outskirts of our cultural attitudes force their way into the daily view of all Americans. The cultural, political, social, religious diversity that makes the US what it is also requires the housing of ugly and archaic attitudes we are generally content to ignore. On most days, the popular stream of media and culture is capable of recognizing and diminishing the reach of our more vitriolic, often racially or sexually charged, opinions.

Other times, however, the capacity for racism, sexism and bigotry cannot be hidden. Usually this accompanies high-profile stories and people: President Obama, for example, or religious debates around freedom and war. But when the darker sentiments of our culture are presented to the public in response to the personal stories of individual citizens, we should not ignore them or pretend the damage is constrained to the fringe. We should consider what is said, and why, so as to better understand why the space exists for this kind of hatred to continue.

ninaMSamerica

Thus, first and foremost, congratulations to Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, who was crowned Miss America. Ms. Davuluri is the first woman of Indian descent to win the title of Miss America. I’ve never watched the Miss America pageant, and have no opinions to offer on the competition itself.

But whatever one might think of the Miss America competition, we cannot ignore the reaction that has accompanied Ms. Davuluri’s victory. The response on social media has been swift and unfortunate. The gist of much of it being: Davuluri’s Indian heritage and brown skin make her ineligible for the title Miss America.

click over for th rest: Who is Actually Miss America?

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