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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid