What does it take to be an American? Isn’t being born and brought up in America enough? Isn’t your passport enough solidification for your citizenship? What does it take to be a terrorist? Apparently, it is being Indian and/or muslim.
Miss USA, 2013, Nina Davuluri is a 24 year old, born in Syracuse and have lived in Oklahoma and Michigan. She moved to New York 6 years ago with her family. New York embraced her by crowning her Miss New York.
A beauty with brains, she had won Michigan Merit Award and graduated in Brain behavior and cognitive science. She overcame bulimia and obesity before entering the contest. She wants to use the prize money not for plastic surgery but for her education to become a physician and save lives.
Academically accomplished, strong-willed, what makes this girl unworthy of being Miss America? Is it because her parents are of Indian origin? Although our hearts beat from pride and joy, yet the fact remains she is no less of an American.
She was heavily criticised on social networks- “Ummm wtf? Have we forgotten 9/11?” asked @anthonytkr, associating her with the terrorist attack on the United States. Some called her Miss Al-Qaida and others dubbed her Miss Terrorist. “How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab!” followed up @jakeamick5.
Rima Fakih, Miss America, 2010 had faced similar criticisms for being a muslim. Miss USA, 2011, Alyssa Campanella posted on Facebook, “Disgusted by comments on the new Miss America. So what if she is Indian-American? I’m Danish-American. My maternal grandfather immigrated from Denmark. He was not born here. Did that make me an unworthy Miss USA because my family comes from a different country? Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether was born in South Africa. That fact certainly did not make her an unworthy Miss USA. Unless you have native American blood in you, your family roots came from elsewhere. I think its great to have multi cultural winners considering we are such a diverse nation.”
It does hurt our sentiments as Indians to have someone from Indian origins being bashed up online on racial grounds.
However, its a good time to reflect on our own shortcomings. The discrimination Indians face abroad is no different than the discrimination we make against each other on grounds of caste, religion, sex, color. Indians have always equated beauty with fair skin. Colored skin has been less preferred. We shout and cry if we face discrimination abroad. But what about the homeland? How can we forget the verbal attacks on Sonia Gandhi when she was selected to be the prime ministerial candidate of India.
America is still in its budding stage of accepting cultural diversity, just like India. The judges were unbiased and let the best one win. A certain section also criticises President Obama, however won the votes and nod of America, fair and square.
Indians are being appreciated all over the world. Designers of Indian origin are excelling on the international stage. Indian actors are being appreciated. Chanel created Bombay-Paris collection, Louboutin created shoes designed especially for Indians.
It is high time, to let our minds open up and soak in all the cultural diversity and enrichen ourselves. This incident made us realise that America, like India has a long way to go. There are still people who haven’t evolved as much as they would wish to.
However, a deserving person is above these petty things. Just because you aren’t evolved enough, the victorious shouldn’t be pulled down. One’s citizenship should be determined from the passport and not the color of their skin. People may call her Arab, foreigner, non-american but her citizenship remains unaltered. The crown on her head remains unmoved.
By: Akanksha Narang