Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Link Between Hyphema and The Miss America Pageant

There's a lot of noise about Syracuse-born Nina Davuluri winning the Miss America title because of her heritage. It seems that her brown-skin makes her UN-American according to some rather vocal opponents. Davuluri was born to parents who emigrated from southeastern India before her birth.
It shouldn’t matter where Miss Davuluri was born or raised anyway. "I have to rise above (the hate). I always viewed myself as first and foremost American." Those were the words she spoke after vile diatribe hit the online world.
In Hyphema, Sudah Garratti was born in Pakistan (another Asian country). She was making the appropriate moves to earn her American citizenship and to vow her allegiance to everything the U.S.A. stands for. When Matt Garratti moved his family to North Carolina they were met with bigotry and misconceptions. One person compares Sudah to the 19 terrorists of 9/11, she’s called an “A-rab” and she’s looked at with undue suspicion when her own family is put in jeopardy. Her determination to earn her American citizenship, to be a good person and to love her husband and son is mocked simply because of her ethnicity.
I am certainly not attempting to trivialize Nina Davuluri’s situation or the loathsome and hateful statements made against her after being crowned Miss America. She is an American woman who is now in a position to be a role model, an emissary of our land, and an example of our American diversity. Sudah Garratti is a fictional character, but Sudah was the result of the same hatred exhibited in vile tweets and other comments after the pageant.
A few weeks ago I watched John Wayne’s The Searchers and I had to laugh when he “complimented” a tribal chief by saying “You speak good American for an Injun.” Certainly our Native Americans have a different perspective on the term “American through and through”. According to Wikipedia, in 2010 the (Native American) American Indian or Alaska Native population was less than one-percent. In 2007 there were approximately 38-million first-generation LEGAL immigrants. Our country is overwhelmingly inhabited with people and traditions that did not originate on our shores, we’ve blended cultures and families with a diverse and rich mix of heritage.
The pageant was filled with beautiful American women from varied backgrounds and ideologies, women who can be respected and admired for their intelligence, their uniqueness, and their commitment to principles. Each participant seemed worthy of her individual state title, but in the end only one could wear the crown. I applaud Nina Davuluri for being proud and understanding the ethnic roots her parents chose to plant in America and for earning the title of a true American beauty.

*In 1983 Vanessa Williams became the first African-American woman to wear the Miss America crown - there was a lot of hate mail and racist comments then too.