I can’t remember the last time I watched the Miss America pageant. As a child I used to lay on the floor in front of the TV, chin in my hands, watching excitedly as the 53 women vied for the coveted bejeweled crown.
Then somewhere between childhood innocence and adolescent anger, the feminist in me reared its ugly head and flatly refused to watch any of these so-called beauty contests. (Disclaimer: I still have interest in Miss Universe, as I find it fascinating to see all the beautiful people from all parts of the world.)
So it came as no surprise that, last week, when a preview for this year’s competition appeared on TV, I laughed to myself and promised I wouldn’t watch—again. I also laughed because I saw that Chris Harrison (of The Bachelor fame) would be co-hosting. To be fair, I do watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette, even though we have a nickname for Chris (Hint: It starts with “P” and rhymes with “wimp”).
But I digress.
What did come as a surprise, however, was reading yesterday in the news (I realize I must be the last to know) that an Indian-American contestant had won the title.
Her name is Nina Davuluri, and her parents hail from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Nina is from Syracuse, and entered the competition representing her home state of New York. Nina’s win unleashed a hostile and racist stream of comments on Twitter, calling her “Muslim”, “Arab”, and accusing her of having terrorist links.
[Insert eyeroll here.]
Nina, who is classically trained in Bharatanatyam and performed a dance during the talent portion, reportedly brushed off the comments, saying that first and foremost, she considers herself American.
- The First Indian-American Miss America Has Racists Very, Very Confused (theatlanticwire.com)
I read this online with Peanut perched on my knee, and let my mind wander. I am also a first-generation Indian American.
During my lifetime so far, I have only begun to see a shift in the Indian population in the US, from a minority status, known only for running convenience stores and driving taxis, to full-on ubiquity: running corporations and driving sales, to saving lives, starring in movies and television, and holding public office. Analysts predict that in about 30 years, Caucasians will no longer be the majority demographic.
And by the time my daughters are my age now, that word minority will most likely be in the dumpster—for them, at least.