The Corner

It’s Not a Beauty Pageant, It’s a Scholarship Program!

I didn’t know they still did Miss America pageants, but apparently the new holder of the title is one Nina Davuluri, Syracuse-born Miss New York. I don’t know if all that work is worth the $50K scholarship (which will cover, what, two months’ worth of medical school?) but congratulations to her nonetheless.

In a country of 300+ million people, it should come as no surprise that there were some jerks on Twitter who insulted her ethnicity (her parents immigrated from India). BuzzFeed was on the case, shaming fools who tweeted that she was a “terrorist” (not a lot of Hindu terrorists, I’m happy to say) or “Miss 7-11″.

That said, she herself has admitted that there’s a certain affirmative-action quality to her success; after winning first runner-up in Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (the Miss America farm team), she told the Indian newspaper The Hindu in 2007 that “My Indian origin [has] helped me win.” That’s not a reflection on her — she certainly looks like a deserving winner.

Despite pablum about embracing diversity, Miss Davuluri seems to have risen above the racialist nonsense, making clear that “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” Bravo. And more interesting than the gibbering of nitwits on Twitter is that this truly was an “only in America” moment. By that I mean that if Miss Davuluri’s parents hadn’t emigrated, she never would have enjoyed this honor because, as Razib Khan writes, she “is probably too dark skinned to win a beauty pageant in India!” Seriously, follow Razib’s links; most of the top beauty contestants in India look Italian or Greek. It’s a sign of our self-hatred that the racist venting of a handful of basement-dwelling imbeciles is considered more notable than the fact that her parents had to move here for their daughter’s beauty to be recognized.


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