Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

The Miss America Pageant–a staple of American culture– announced their winner, Nina Davuluri last week, who is the first Miss America winner of Indian descent.
While usually this is a time for celebration, the hours following the contest results were brutal. People on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook did not hold back their harsh words. It’s unfortunate to live in a society where times of celebration are tainted by such negativity and stupidity.
Buzzfeed, a well-known site that shares common Internet trends, collaborated several posts that were posted publicly shortly after the announcement. Tweets like “This is America, not India” were common. “I swear I’m not racist but this is America” were among the more ironic ones. There were also Tweets naming Nina a Muslim which is just ignorant. Several other commenters considered themselves offended that such a decision would be made so close to September 11.
The stupidity and ignorance of some people will never surprise me, but the hate and abuse during such a modern culture do. Why do we still have issues like this?
I decided to sit down with a former Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen (this pageant system is the “little sister” to the Miss America pageant). Julia Rae is a former West Chester University student, and I asked her about the values held by Miss America pageants. “The four points of the Miss America crowns are scholarship, service, success and style. I walked away from my experience with skills that I still use to this day.” She explained to me that the organization truly upholds their values and consistently finds intelligent, poised, and compassionate women to represent them. I asked her about her stance on the negative responses that came after the Miss America results were announced.
“I think it’s fantastic that an Indian-American woman won Miss America this year. Miss America embodies the entire nation and there is incredible, beautiful diversity in this country so it’s definitely time for that to be acknowledged on this national platform. ” The diversity in this country is a beautiful thing. The United States has been a combination of several cultures, yet some people fail to acknowledge that.
The hardest part of all this that I cannot seem to wrap my head around is that society that has been so diverse for a very long time, still cannot accept some of the cultures remotely different from themselves.
What do these widely-shared views of hatred say about our definition of beauty? Are some so closed minded we cannot get past the image of a white, southern, blonde as a standard for our beauty? Or is it that we truly are a racist nation blind to the things that really matter?
It is hard to understand the Americans who look at the contestants’ beautiful faces, bodies, hair, and vast around of talent and still find ways to discriminate. The sad, hard truth is that racism still exists. Can we even assume our country is making progress?
Nina Davuluri is American. She is just as American as my Italian, Irish, and German self, and as American as the person sitting next to you.
Elizabeth Coppa is a third-year student majoring in communication studies and minoring in journalism. She can be reached at EC744351@wcupa.edu. 

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