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When Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America on Sunday, it was a reminder of how diverse a country the United States has become. Although it has been nearly 30 years since the first African-American contestant won the title, Ms. Davuluri is the first winner of South Asian descent.
“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” the 24-year-old said during her first news conference. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America,” the former Miss New York said.
Meantime, however, she was being denounced on social media by those who will never accept the kind of America that an Indian Miss America represents.
Twitter became an especially toxic environment for racist sentiments about Ms. Davuluri’s ethnic background. Some of the most ignorant tweets called the University of Michigan graduate a “terrorist” and parodied her as “Miss 7-11.” One tweeter wanted to know why Miss America was no longer required to “be an American.”
To her credit, Ms. Davuluri refused to be rattled. “I have to rise above that,” the Syracuse, N.Y., native told one interviewer. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
If history is a guide, Ms. Davuluri won’t have to deal with the burden of representation by herself for long. America is becoming more diverse by the minute, increasing the odds that when the next Indian American is chosen as Miss America, it won’t be a big deal. That will be even a greater day.
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