Shortly after Nina Davaluri was crowned Miss America Sunday night, the world took notice. In an instant, a beauty pageant that symbolized “all-American” standards of beauty crowned a woman who ran on a platform of “cultural diversity” and performed a Bollywood dance routine to a song sung entirely in Hindi.
But her glitter on her tiara had barely settled before exuberant fans took to social media to moan about the prevalence of racist Tweets denouncing Davuluri’s win. Instead of focusing on her platform, her dancing or her impressive resume — the focus shifted immediately to…her haters. Come on, Internet. HATERS GONNA HATE! It’s the number one rule on the web.
Within minutes, BuzzFeed had a list of racist tweets and more mainstream news outlets like The Atlantic and CNN soon followed. An hour after the pageant ended, Twitter and Facebook were overflowing with angry posts linking to hate-filled messages from across the nation. Ultimately, the online conversation over the negative tweets hijacked the exuberance of Davuluri’s win.
Back to the win. Let’s be honest. It was a symbolic moment — even for our hardened pageant hater-hearts — when the 24-year-old walked down the stage in her yellow evening dress and sparkly tiara.
Moments earlier, as she tearfully clutched the hands of Miss California Crystal Lee, Nina told host Lara Spencer, “We’re both so proud. We’re making history standing here as Asian Americans.”
Awwww. How could you not love her?
The Aerogram’s readers probably noticed that we didn’t do a post on the racist tweets that polluted the #MissAmerica hastag after Davuluri’s big moment. There’s an important reason for that and it can’t be said enough: Racist tweets add nothing to the conversation. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. While the BuzzFeeds of the world thrive on page views and controversy, sometimes it’s important to take a step back and ask what a post that consists of a handful of sentences followed by an endless stream of racist bile brings to the table.
Surely it isn’t news that some people can’t find India on a map, that there are those who are instantly suspicious of those of us with dark skin and that so-called “unpronounceable” names drive ignorant people crazy. (And if those things are news to you, you’ve never been a South Asian American student in an American middle school). So what is accomplished by broadcasting the hateful views of some person with eight Twitter followers to readers all over the world? And since when was racism in America the only news story worth pursuing?
Sometimes you just have to check yourself against The Gospel According to Aasif Mandvi. The Daily Show correspondent tweeted:
— aasif mandvi (@aasif) September 16, 2013
The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar had similar thoughts, tweeting,
A lot of negative reactions to an Indian American Miss America. Truth is, racists exist. Lets not empower them by giving them importance:)
— Kunal Nayyar (@kunalnayyar) September 16, 2013
It’s unfortunate that Nina Davuluri’s crowning achievement was pushed to the side so quickly because it means media outlets are making a deliberate choice to highlight hate and ugliness over her accomplishments. (And whatever you think of pageants, Davuluri is an incredibly accomplished young woman.) For her part, Davuluri is taking the high road, simply telling reporters, “I have to rise above that.”
So let the haters choke on their own Haterade. America, bow down to your new queen. Your Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri.