Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri on Racist Comments: "I Have to Rise Above That"
Bigots will be bigots. But just-crowned Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri isn't wasting her time wading through the ignorance. The Syracuse native, the first-ever Indian-American woman to win the coveted beauty pageant crown, addressed the influx of racist comments following her triumph on Sunday, Sept. 15, telling The Associated Press that she will "rise above" her critics.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she told The AP. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America. …I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."
The Internet quickly lit up following Davuluri's win on Sunday evening, with some uninformed viewers weighing in on the decision with offensive, derogatory comments.
"Miss Arab wins Miss America and the score of the Seattle/SanFran game is 5-0 at the half? What is life?" one Twitter user wrote.
"Asian or Indian are you kiddin this is america omg," another chimed in.
"9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?" another wrote.
Some users denied their prejudice while expressing their bigotry, however: "I swear I'm not racist but this is America," one woman wrote.
Davuluri, 24, beat out 52 other women to take home the title, and told reporters shortly afterward that the win was that much more significant because she had made history as not only the first Indian Miss New York, but the first Indian Miss America as well.
"I haven't even had time to get emotional," she said after being crowned. "I haven't even had time to speak to my parents yet."
Davuluri competed on the platform "Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency," and performed a traditional Indian dance infused with more modern Bollywood moves for the talent portion of the competition.
Also of note were the night's runner-ups, who included both Miss California Crystal Lee (who was named first runner up) and Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh (who was fourth runner up), both of Asian American descent.
In 1984, Vanessa Williams was the first African American woman to be crowned Miss America. Singer and actress Williams, 50, is set to meet with Davuluri later this week after inviting the newly crowned Miss America winner to her Broadway play, The Trip to Bountiful, Syracuse.com reports.