Here's the piece I wrote about Nina Davuluri's win, and how as a brown lady in the States—it's complicated!
Why I Hate Miss America, But Love Her Too
Photo: Getty Images
The part of me that grew up South Asian in the States is secretly thrilled to see an Indian Miss America. I'm thinking of myself as a second grader in Missouri, drawing my face with a peach-colored crayon, until I realized there was a shade called Tawny (the most common mispronunciation of my name). For that kid, and so many others, Nina Davuluri's win is momentous example of #desipride.
But it's only just now that I'm making this admission. I say I'm "secretly thrilled" because I'm tired of the brouhaha surrounding something as inane as a beauty pageant. And I'm tired of the knee-jerk racist response that followed the announcement that Davuluri had been crowned the winner.
This is a historic moment, as when any group "makes it"—Davuluri is the first Indian-American to win the pageant, and one of three Asian-Americans in the top five, including Rebecca Yeh (Miss Minnesota) and Crystal Lee (Miss California). Davuluri's win struck a chord with the masses of Americans who still believe Barack Obama is Muslim, The Hunger Games' Rue can't be black, and the cute kid from the Cheerios ad is Satan's spawn. Angry tweets flooded the Twitterverse: "I don't understand how you can be up for Miss America you're not American you're a f*cking dot head!! #MERICA"
Yes, the Miss America pageant is a quintessential all-American display, as is, sadly enough, the barrage of xenophobic tweets. We're a land built on difference and the fear of it.