I usually don’t pay attention to things like the Miss America Pageant. In fact, I usually avoid them. However, the pageant last night has really caught some attention because of the winner. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, is an Indian American, as in, her family is from India. She was born in New York, but her parents came to the US from India in the 80’s. She’s the first Indian American to win Miss America, and many American people were not ok with this apparently. Twitter exploded with rants and raves about a Muslim winning Miss America, one Tweeter even going as far as calling Nina a terrorist. Tweeters whined about how a “person like this” shouldn’t be winning so soon after 9/11. And most tweeters just sounded ignorant- making 7-11 jokes, calling her Egyptian, and saying “This is America.” (Read all the tweets here.)
Do people forget that America was founded on immigration? Are most of the people upset about this Native Americans? My guess is no. My guess is their families came from another country too; it just may have been more generations ago. Why is it ok to be an immigrant if you’re white but not ok if you’re any other color? Why did so many people say that Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, should have won? Just because she is blonde and likes to hunt instead of enjoying Bollywood dancing? Is Miss Kansas more American than Miss New York? I wasn’t aware that skin color and interests made a person American.
In school, we were always taught that America is a melting pot, people from different countries and cultures came together in the US and became one country and one people. However, I believe more in the salad bowl theory, which says many people come to the US and become Americans, yet they can still retain things from their home countries and home cultures. We are lettuce, and tomatoes, and cheese. We are in the salad bowl together, but we remain as separate items at the same time. That is what allows people to be Indian American, or Mexican American, or Italian American, or whatever they may be. That is what makes American great; we aren’t homogeneous. We eat Mexican food for lunch, then we have Chinese food for dinner. We share and learn from each other’s backgrounds or cultures.
I don’t know. She looks American to me.