The Land of the Fair and the Home of the Flaxen

Views 81 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 4 - 2014 | By: Amanda Underwood

Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America 2014, at the Boardwalk Hall Arena in Atlantic City on Sept. 15, the second consecutive Miss New York to win the title. The 24-year-old from Fayetteville, N.Y., has lived in the United States her whole life. She was born to immigrant parents from India who arrived in the United States 30 years ago.

A shocking amount of controversy arose from the crowning this year, as it became clear that a number of people were uncomfortable with Davuluri’s background. Viewers complained that she is not really American because her family is from India. Tweets poured in calling her “the Muslim.” Some claimed she has connections to al-Qaida, and one naïve tweeter even accused her of being a terrorist — because her skin is darker than your average American beauty queen. In response to the reaction to her crowning, Davuluri has decided to take the high road and rejoice instead in the program’s decision to embrace diversity.

Some disgruntled viewers argue that someone like Miss Kansas should have won. Contestant Theresa Vail is a bowhunting bombshell blond who has also served in the National Guard.

Why is it that our nation tends to define Theresa Vail as a real American and hesitates to include Nina Davuluri in the description? If not America, then where would Davuluri belong? It’s true that despite being born in the United States, her ancestry comes from elsewhere; however, the same could be said for Vail, as her blonde hair and light skin reflect European heritage.

The foundation of our nation is built on an intricate history of immigration, and it is only through immigration that our country became what it is today. If we acknowledge that the United States is a melting pot of diverse cultures coming together to form one of the world’s greatest powers, then at what point do we consider those who have immigrated true “Americans”? How many generations of citizenship will grant a family the legitimacy of belonging to the country that they live in and work for?

Apparently, having called America “home” for all her life is not enough for Davuluri, and it appears to have something to do with the color of her skin. As a country, we pride ourselves on our ability to call this “the Land of the Free,” a place of opportunity and equality, but the shameful reality is that freedom and equality are still hampered by racial stereotypes. Miss America pageant contestants may be written off as “shallow” or “superficial,” but I argue that it is actually the community that condemns Davuluri’s win that is shallow. They fail to recognize that we are a beautiful and diverse nation made up of all different heights, weights and colors. We are the land of the free and home of the brave, not the land of the fair and the home of the blonde.


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