Nina Davuluri, an aspiring doctor born in Syracuse, New York, is the first-ever Indian American to be crowned Miss America. After delighting judges in Atlantic City last night with a Bollywood-inspired dance routine and taking the crown, the 24-year-old announced she would use the $50,000 award to fund her studies.
Unfortunately, her joyous acceptance of the award – which can be seen here on video – was marred by a flood of racist comments inundated her on Twitter.
“This is Miss America… Not Miss Foreign Country,” Meredith Talley (@MeredithRoanell) tweeted. (The account seems to have been taken down.)
“Shes like not even american and she won miss america,” tweeted “Kat” (@KathrynRyan50) (whose account also seems to have been deleted).
“So the winner and runner up of MISS AMERICA are both foreign,” tweeted “Mad” (@Maddiee_Beee) (the one of these selected comments that was not later taken down). This comment refers to the runner up, Crystal Lee, a Chinese-American Stanford graduate who grew up in the Bay Area and is fluent in Mandarin. Fourth runner-up was Miss Minnesota, Rebecca Yeh, who is also of Asian descent.
Unbothered by the onslaught of vitriol, Davuluri brushed aside the racist remarks, saying, “I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
After the hatred had passed, thankfully a legion of supporters rallied around Davuluri’s selection as Miss America 2014.
Former model and actress Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) tweeted: “Congrats to @NinaDavuluri, first Indian-American Miss America! Proud of you, girl! Love, TyTy.”
@marshawnevans wrote, “First Indian American Woman to win #MissAmerica! Love it!! She is stunning and well spoken. Great choice! #missNY.”
Taking stock of the negative tweets, @celesteheadlee added, “This is depressing. Well, wonderful that she won & depressing that some Americans are morons. #MissAmerica”
The new holder of the crown was born to Telugu-speaking parents who originally hailed from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Awarded Miss New York 2013, she is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she maintained a stellar academic record.
None of this should come as a surprise. After all, the U.S. government announced this June that for the first time white children are in the minority of those born in the U.S. By 2043, white Americans will no longer be the majority in the country.