The crowning of the 2014 Miss America has unearthed the embarrassing ignorance of American society.
Within seconds of the announcement that Nina Davuluri, an Indian-American contestant from New York, had won the pageant, social media sites erupted with blatantly racist posts against the decision. Though many Americans did accept Davuluri, the unfathomable amount of backlash forces one to wonder just how far our society has come in its attempt to weed out racism.
While the convenience of accessing social media in society is great for the global promotion of news and ideas, social media has a dark side. Through sites such as Facebook and Twitter, people are able to post from behind the safety of their screens, and the posts are less likely to be filtered or even re-read before being sent into the permanence of online media.
On the morning after Davuluri won the title of Miss America 2014, many users did not applaud the young woman for her huge achievement, but rather posted disgraceful comments on social media sites.
“Only 4 days after 9/11 and we pick a terrorist as our Miss America,” one Twitter post said.
Fortunately, there were some supporters of Davuluri who chose to fight back against these ignorant posts. Many people vigorously tweeted the facts; Davuluri was an Indian-American Hindu, born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. Therefore it is bizarre and unjust to associate her with any other religious groups or stereotypes.
In an interview with Fox News, Davuluri claims to have expected the backlash on a higher scale after winning the pageant because of the criticisms she received after winning the title of Miss New York. However, she finds this opportunity to be extremely timely. Her chosen cause is to “celebrate diversity through cultural competency.” Her goal is to try and close the gap of racial ignorance in our society.
The racism present in social media is not something new to the winners of this pageant who are not Caucasian. Hitherto, there have been eight African-American winners and one Filipino winner of the Miss America title in addition to our new Indian-American Miss America. Out of the 92 Miss America pageants, the amount of glamorized diversity seems small, but it does exist, which shows that there are some parts of our country that are moving in the right direction against racism.
It is extremely unfortunate that the crowning of Nina Davuluri was not a time of pure celebration for her accomplishments and our country. However, the way the media handled the disgusting ignorance of racist social media users will benefit this issue in the future as it has shed light on Davuluri’s personal cause. Her bright outlook on the situation makes the success of closing the gap on racial ignorance seem promising, as do the thousands of people reaching out to her through social media sites to show their support.
The integrity of American society has surely stumbled over this issue, yet as more people reach out positively and use social media to brighten the situation, there is no doubt that we will be able to reach a level of integrity and racial acceptance that we can take pride in.
Felicia Czochanski, FCRH ’17, is from Metuchen N.J.