Trending News Monday: Miss America 2014: Social Media Backlash in a Diverse America

Last night, the Miss America Organization crowned Miss New York, Nina Davuluri of Syracuse, as 2014’s Miss America. Davuluri’s pageant win made history, as she is the first Miss America of Indian-American descent and is the second consecutive contestant from New York to win the crown. Davuluri’s win marked only the third time in history that the same state has won the crown two years in a row since the pageant began in 1921.

 

 

Unfortunately, viewers overlooked history, and instead unleashed a frenzy of hateful social media posts directed at Davuluri. Tons of tweets surfaced suggesting she was a foreigner, an Arab and a terrorist:

“So miss america is a terrorist.”– @pizzo_nick

“#MissAmerica ummm wtf?! Have we forgotten 9/11?” — @anthonytkr

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.” — @Blayne_MkltRain

“Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.” — @JPLman95.

Those are only a few of the hundreds of tweets flowing on Twitter – Buzzfeed collected many of them. It breaks my heart that there is still so much hate and ignorance in this world.

The 24-year-old Miss America didn’t let hateful social media posts bring her down. “I have to rise above that,” Davuluri said, according to the AP. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” During her victory press conference, she also said, ”I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity… I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”

Other Twitter users came to her defense, like @AnastaciaMcC who wrote, “Congrats to the new #MissAmerica! A true, born in New York American!! And, to the ignorant & racist people out there, shame on you!!” I’ve noticed more positive posts than negative ones today as “Miss America” still trends on Twitter (which I’m happy to see).

Davuluri embraced diversity, calling on her heritage during the talent portion of the competition. Her routine was a Bollywood fusion dance. Davuluri stated how proud she was saying “It’s the first time Bollywood has ever been performed on the Miss America stage, and it’s such an honor for myself, my family and the Indian community, as well.”

This is not the first time national pageant winners have had to face racist remarks. According to Today.com, in 1983, Vanessa Williams was the first black woman to win Miss America. She received hate mail (this was, of course, before the days of social media). People linked Rima Fakih, an Arab-American who was named Miss USA in 2010, with the military terrorist group Hezbollah.

Seeing how many people continue to act so disrespectfully during historical events is mind-boggling. America is diverse and is home to all. Without a mixture of various races, cultures and religions, America would not be the nation that it is today.  America and diversity should be celebrated together. It’s time to live up to what our country stands for, “freedom and equality for all.”

Cover Photo Source: WilleeCole

Nicole Hernandez is the social media manager at SJG. She’s a Chicagoan who graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in Public Relations & Advertising and minor in Journalism. Nicole is known to her peers as being online all the time –  while on her spare time you can find her taking footage on her phone while she’s rocking out at music festivals. She’s also training to be the new water girl at Chicago Bulls games (in her dreams).