Miss America controversy should serve as lesson of equality

The very stage that was supposed to display the wide diversity of American beauty is the cause of the recent racial backlash against the newly crowned Miss America.

The hateful response that has followed in the week after last Sunday’s pageant should be taken as a lesson to all.

Nina Davuluri, a 24-year-old American of Indian decent, was crowned Miss America, and left many people in shock.

Racist comments were circulating on Twitter as soon as the winner was announced, ignorantly labeling Davuluri as an al-Qaida terrorist and
bashing her dark skin tone.

As seen on Twitter, Americans reacted to her crowning, tweeting things such as: “she’s not American enough,” “9/11 was four days ago and she gets Miss America?” and “Miss America right now… or Miss al-Qaeda?”

According to CNN, even people in India, who had been expected to celebrate, questioned the decision of crowning a dark-skinned woman, being that fair-skinned women are more valued in the Indian culture.

The “Dark is Beautiful” campaign describes how the discrimination against darker skin in India has reached a point to where famous Indian actresses are promoting skin products that claim to lighten the skin, using slogans such as “fair and lovely” and propagating the idea that fair skin is more attractive than dark skin.

It is disappointing to see such ignorant comments.

The crowning of an Indian-American Miss America should be a positive mark for both the American and Indian cultures.

Davuluri’s crowning is challenging both American and Indian standards of beauty, but perhaps it should spark a dialogue.

Instead of criticizing Davuluri, Indians should be proud to see that Miss America’s dark skin might put a stop to the discrimination and prove that success and beauty can be achieved, contrary to what skin products and media are advertising.

And Americans shouldn’t forget that the U.S. was founded on a principle of equality and diversity. After all, America is home to a wide array of cultures, religions and ethnicities, and there isn’t a single one that is more “American” than the other.

History has taught that hate and discrimination will only reflect negativity, and Miss America 2014 arose at the perfect time to enlighten the public, once again, that success can outshine ignorance.

Lama Alqasemi is a freshman majoring in mass communications.