News / USA

    Racist Tweets Follow Naming of Indian-American Miss America

    Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned as Miss America 2014 by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan in Atlantic City, N.J.
    Miss New York Nina Davuluri is crowned as Miss America 2014 by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan in Atlantic City, N.J.
    Nina Davuluri’s crowning as Miss America on Sunday marked the first time an Indian-American had won the prestigious competition.
     
    Davuluri competed on a theme of "Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency."  She is American and was born in New York, but vicious posts have appeared on Twitter labeling her as Arab, Muslim, al-Qaida and un-American.
     
    When asked about this latest controversy, the new Miss America said she has to rise above it, and that she's always considered herself "first and foremost American."
     
    Reaction in India
     
    The tweets touched off a debate about racism and nationalism in this country and in India.  A nightly talk show on the Indian TV network NDTV featured a panelist saying, "Clearly there is a large body of that country that feels she represents everything that's good and cosmopolitan about the United States.  In the world of social networking, there will be thousands of people who now have a right to air their opinion and some of that opinion is racist, sexist and incorrect. But because they have an ability to air it, we can hear it.  But to extrapolate that out and think that 260 million people are racist would be a bit far fetched." 
     
    The 24-year-old Davuluri wants to be a doctor.  She received various academic awards before graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Sciences.
     
    Aswin Punathambeker teaches immigrant identities and media at Davuluri's alma mater and is also of Indian origin. Via Skype, he said he was encouraged by the tweets that criticized and shut down the original prejudiced ones.
     
    "They said this is negative, this ignores the long history of migration of South Asians to the United States, and it ignores the fact that America is a diverse and multi-cultured country."
     
    Nationalism vs. Racism
     
    The NDTV talk show panelist queried her Indian viewers, "If you had the American ideal of beauty standing right here, would you crown her Miss India? I'm not sure."
     
    Punathambeker says nationalism can be good until it becomes racism.
     
    "We have often seen nationalism tends to take on racist overtones during moments of crisis, 9/11 being one of the best examples in recent historical memory.  But nationalism can also generate some positive things and America does have the advantage of having one strand of its history being about inclusion.  Being about pluralism.  So it is possible to tap into that side of nationalism as well."
     
    The conversation continues on the web and on talk shows. Everyone seems to agree that what is deemed "beautiful" often depends on where you live.  But the world is becoming a smaller place.  And politics is changing that definition.

    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora