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 awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid