Nina Davuluri won the 2014 Miss America Competition. Some people are pissed.
Why? Because her family is from India, that’s why. People have flocked to Twitter to express their outrage. Hundreds of people tweeted comments ranging from calling her a terrorist to saying that a white contestant should have won instead because a white contestant is “more American.”
It seems to me that those who feel Nina Davuluri should not have won have an antiquated view of America. They think America is still a mostly white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant nation, or that it should be. But the America that’s in their heads is not the real America. The real America is made up of all kinds of people, including people like Nina.
If a white woman had won the pageant, that would have been fine, too. But the Miss America pageant, as silly as it is, still strives to represent the best of America. If only white women won, that would only be representing some of the best.
Nina represents today’s America, an America that finds strength in its diversity. Nina says she’s going on to medical school after the pageant and has started a national educational program that promotes diversity and knowledge of different cultures. It sounds like having her around will be a good thing. If the pageant denied her the title of Miss America because it didn’t see her as “American enough,” it would be catering to an antiquated view of an imaginary America that no longer exists, while missing out on an opportunity to have an educated, bright woman bring an interesting cultural background to the table.
We need more people like her in positions of power, people who will be more likely to speak for a multi-cultural populace. Whether she becomes a leader in society or not is hard to tell so soon, but the Miss America title gives women the chance to become leaders. And the leaders we need now are women like Nina, not more people like those already taking up space in Congress.