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Friday, September 20, 2013

The American Face

I’ve lately been wondering what the future will look like for America.  Will we look back on our time now and say “we’ve come a long way since 2013”, or are we going to be disappointed with what we’ve done? In response to the recent crowning of Miss America, I’ve got some mixed ideas on what kind of a future we’re headed for.  24 year old Nina Davuluri was crowned as the first American Indian to win the title of Miss America.  The Miss America pageant hasn’t seen groundbreaking history like this since Vanessa Williams won the title for the first African American Miss America in 1984.  I’ve got a newsflash for the American still trapped in the 1960’s with the white = power mentality: the future of American beauty is being rocked. 

            Quickly following the results of the new Miss America winner, an outpour of malicious tweets and hate mail were flooding the Internet, targeting Nina Davuluri.

No, her skin isn’t white. So that makes her a terrorist? How long are we expected to live under a white patriarchy and conform to its ideologies, values, and rules of what it is and what it’s not to be beautiful? Nina Davuluri won this pageant because she out-dressed, out-talented, and out-worked the competition, and the judges knew it.  It’s the ignorant America that’s been throwing a fit, and America that is shaming its own name.
            Let’s take a look at Nina Davuluri and America’s “Choice” aka Theresa Vail (Miss Kansas).

Side by side, the only differences between these two women are the color of their skin, and that one has a tattoo.  In addition to the passage tattoo on her ribs, Miss Kansas also has a military insignia on the back of her shoulder.  At a glance, Theresa Vail is seen as a stereotypical honorable member of the US military and a real American woman.  Yet, how is it that just by looking at Nina Davuluri’s blank canvassed body, she is somehow perceived to be a terrorist? Nina doesn’t have any symbols of Al Qaeda tatted across her chest, nor any signs that she’s anti-American.

All I see is a beautiful human being.

What drew me to this story was seeing the reaction Nina Davuluri took to the backlash.  Though the racist criticism and vulgarity had to be painful, Nina stood above it all.  She says, “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”  To respond to words of hate and discrimination with that kind of dignity, Nina truly encompasses what it means to be Miss America.
            No one can ensure the outcome of the American future.  Will we continue to segregate, classify, rank, and debase each other based on the colors of our skin?  Or will we actually become an equally synthesized blend of cultures, colors, and genders?  Newsflash for the ignorant, once again: America IS multicultural, IS multiracial and IS continuing to grow.  Nina Davuluri is a woman with a vision, a true activist courageous enough to put her vision into action: “I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.” And relate, they will.

Thank you, Nina Davuluri.


Maddison LeRoy

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