As I was skimming through my Facebook newsfeed on Monday morning, I came across multiple articles and status messages addressing Nina Davuluri’s Miss America win.  I clicked on one of the articles and learned that for the first time in the pageant’s history an Indian American had won the big title.  How awesome, right?  Well, as I clicked on another article, I quickly learned that not everyone shared my excitement.  In fact, that’s probably an understatement.


A very small portion of the US population thought Nina’s win was un-American, and those individuals went straight to Twitter with their views.  And it wasn’t pretty.  The tweets were demeaning, ignorant, and racist.

I’m not going to lie.  I was pretty furious for about half the day.  Like blood boiling furious.


And then I calmed down and felt two emotions come over me – sadness and pride.


I felt sad for those individuals that saw Nina’s win as un-American.  Why sad?  Well because their thoughts and comments were clearly uneducated and small minded among other things.


One of the very first US history lessons every child (or so we thought) learns is that this country was built by immigrants.  And for the most part, no one is really from “here.”  Whether you go back one generation or 10 generations, our roots are from elsewhere.  And because of this, no one thing makes someone more or less American than someone else.  And yes, I do realize that there were a lot of other uneducated comments.  Some of them even made me laugh…and curse.


Now, let’s talk about small minded.  Clearly, these people have not had the pleasure of interacting/sharing experiences with and benefiting from others that are different from them.  And different can mean any number of things – skin color, culture, country, language, religion…the list goes on.  Personally, I know that a large part of who I am has been influenced by all the family members, friends, coworkers, and random strangers I’ve had the honor of knowing that are different from me.  Each and every one of them has expanded and/or challenged my view of the world in some way.  And for that I am forever grateful.


Again, it’s just sad.  I pity these kinds of people, the uneducated and small minded.  Not a good combination.


Now for the pride part.  Not only am I proud of Nina Davuluri for being the first Indian American to win the Miss American pageant, I am proud of all the people that embraced her win and saw it as a huge victory for our country.  Just one more step in the right direction – a.k.a. – progress.  I’m also proud of all the people who didn’t think twice about the new Miss America 2014 being of Indian descent…we need more folks like that!

And finally, I am proud to be a first generation Indian American.  One whose family is from India.  One that speaks English, Gujarati, and a little bit of Hindi.  One that played baseball and took traditional Indian dance classes growing up.  One that loves paneer and cheddar.  One that can easily become engrossed in both Bollywood and Hollywood movies.  One whose family and friends have studied and worked for years to be successful doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, businessmen and woman, etc.  One who’s in awe of all the people from around the world that left/leave their homes to come to the United States of America for a better tomorrow.

You see, at the end of the day, an Indian American winning the Miss America pageant is the very definition of what it means to be American.  It’s a beautiful thing.

By Parita

22 thoughts on “Why the Miss America Pageant Made Me Feel Both Sad and Proud”
  1. Even though I didn’t actually take any notice of the competition – it wasn’t a huge topic in the news over here – until yesterday I share your feelings. Just reading an article citing several people’s snark yesterday made me feel that many people still have a long way to go in terms of accepting interculturality. In fact, accept wouldn’t even be the right word: embrace shoud be.
    Actually, I’ve always wished my family was multicultural or at least to live in a more international city. Lucky you! Maybe I’m making up for it just a litte by blogging and getting in touch with people all over the world …
    As you said Nina’s win is a step in the right direction and every little one counts.

    1. I didn’t think twice about it either! We live in Miami and diversity is what it’s all about down here. Sometimes I forget that isn’t the same case everywhere.

  2. This is such an eloquently written post, P…hats off to you for expressing your thoughts towards the win! I felt proud when I heard she was of Indian descent and fortunately didn’t read about any of the negative feedback. It’s sickening that people would even question her win…ethnicity is not the only determinant of someone’s nationality. As someone who’s lived abroad for most of her life, I can relate more to Americans & British yet I don’t think that makes me any less Indian. And the same goes for Nina, being of Indian descent shouldn’t affect how “American” she is.

    1. Thank you again, my friend! I guess I don’t understand how anyone can even define American in terms of race, religious, ethnicity, etc. This country is literally a melting pot representing the entire world! I’m not going to let those idiots make me feel anything but pride!

  3. I was shocked to learn there were people making negative comments. It never even crossed my mind that an Indian woman winning would be a big deal. What planet are the crazy rednecks from?!

    1. Haha – I had a funny response to your question but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say it here. But seriously, where are these crazies from?!

    1. Honestly, I wasn’t shocked to learn that some people were opposed to the win. But you’re right, in this day and age, we should be celebrating all the things our country has achieved in such a short period of time.

  4. Ignorance is bliss and I think you just have to chant that to yourself sometimes when people make ridiculous comments. Especially on Twitter, the unfortunate thing about just a vast and popular social media site is that we have people from all sides of the intelligent spectrum. I’m not big on the Miss America pageants but thought the winner was absolutely stunning!

  5. I love this post. Especially the last two paragraphs!!!

    Unfortunately, ignoring people’s negative, hateful opinions isn’t as easy anymore with social media connecting us to people we don’t choose to associate with. But we can look past those and actively seek out/appreciate the greater things that social media CAN connect us to. Check out this video if you haven’t already!

    1. I’m going to watch the video tonight! And you’re right, it’s not so easy to ignore. But we have to remember that those individuals are not the majority.

  6. It’s sad the kind of world we live in now, where people can just spew hate and ignorance with no repercussion whatsoever. I also think it’s sad because the hate is what the media decided to focus on, not the pride felt by other Indian Americans..or hell, AMERICANS in general. While I wanted the Army badass to win, I LOVE the fact that the new Miss America is Indian American. You put it so eloquently, P! And you’re the first person I thought of when she won!

    1. I’m honored that you thought of me! And you’re right, mainstream media focused on those few hateful individuals instead of the historic win. Even follow-up articles were all about how she felt about the comments. SMH!

  7. I love this article Parita. You did such a great job writing it. I can feel your pain, anger, frustration with the entire situation. I’m really shocked at the response. The girl is born and raised here, and that’s all that matters. She won fair and square. I’m glad the judges saw beyond the color of her skin. Excellent write!

    1. Thanks again, N! I wasn’t too shocked, just angry! Haha. She’s a citizen through and through and 100% more intelligent than any of those people. They’re just jealous! 🙂

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