Miss America- Racism is alive and well



In 2008, I voted for Barack Obama. Political preferences aside, I voted for 2 simple things (yes there were others) but it was hope and change. It was my hope that his appointment as President was an indicator that racism might be fading and perhaps our country would focus on the possibilities versus the color of the President’s skin.

In my naive mind, I believed that the votes that got President Obama into the white house would be the same votes that would bring about unity as a country allowing us to move forward as a whole nation versus a fragmented one.

Enter stage right- Reality.

This past weekend Miss America 2013 was crowned. Though I don’t typically watch the pageant, I happened to catch the tail end of it when channel surfing. I saw the potential winner and said to my daughter, “She’s gorgeous, I bet she’ll win.”  Sure enough she was crowned Miss America.

Nina Davuluri, the 24-year-old who now wears the crown is a native of Fayetteville, New York. She was on the dean’s list and earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nod while studying at the University of Michigan. She graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. Her father immigrated to the U.S. over 30 years ago. Nina is as American as I am.

While watching the end of the contest, I was flipping through my social media channels and there it was. The hate, the venom, the inexcusable comments showing up on Twitter and Facebook.

Some of the comments included, “Wait, I thought this was Miss AMERICA?  “What’s American about a Muslim becoming Miss America.”  Other posts called her a terrorist and and Arab. While another post  commented, “This is not India, it’s America.”  13087964-standard

The more I read,  I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  Many of these posts were by young adults. I was shocked. I switched over to my FB page and unfortunately, someone I know, a father of young children posted, “Miss America? She doesn’t look American. ” I immediately removed him from my list, but couldn’t help thinking about his young children and his post, “She doesn’t look American.” WTH?  The beauty of America is diversity. However,  just as love, compassion and acceptance are taught in the home, so too is racism.

When I lived in Texas, people often mistook me for Mexican (I’m Portuguese). I wasn’t able to go to some sleep overs because the parents didn’t want a Mexican in their home. There were times when I was treated poorly at restaurants as well as grocery stores. I know what racism feels like and I don’t like it. But more than that, I don’t get it.

My grandparents migrated from Portugal back in the 1900’s. The United States was built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants.  Read the history books. Guess what Mr. “This is America, where’s the American,” we are ALL descendants of immigrants and this country wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

The simple part of me wants to say, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Then the realist in me recognizes that it may never happen.

I had hoped to raise my kids in a world of acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Call me Pollyanna. I had also hoped that by the time my kids starting having kids, racism would be something of the past.

Dr. Kings dream that people should not be judged by the color of their skin rather the content of their character is a a dream I have too. It’s unfortunate it remains a dream.

What do you think?


Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.


16 responses to “Miss America- Racism is alive and well”

  1. I was stunned by the comments! I wish I could say with certainty that it would have been different up in Canada but social media seems to have given a platform to all kinds of people, including the lowest of the low.
    Let’s all keep working away from fear of the unknown and hate, and towards acceptance.

  2. How infuriating to be faced with such blatant ignorance, and as you point out, to know it is possibly part of a whole family’s culture to be so unaccepting. If anything constructive comes from it, there are always living, breathing examples of the way never to be, as you point your children in the proper direction.

  3. Like you I was saddened and disheartened by the hate-filled racist comments. I am however, no longer friends with anyone of FB who makes those comments. The new Miss America is an accomplished beautiful young woman. Her milestone election will outlast the haters.

  4. Nicki, it IS a shame that differences are magnified as opposed to all the similarities. One sees it from the government on down to the primary schools. I have said for years that the fact that people of different ethnicities are referred to as belonging to different races is used to keep us thinking ” THE OTHER”. We all belong to the human race which is comprised of multiple ethnicities. But, as long as we stay focused on what does not matter, we can not see the bigger picture. We cannot see the forest for the trees.

  5. All I can say is, “never lose hope” because positive out-weighs negative. Things ARE better than they were many years ago, and so when something like this happens, it is hard to believe such hate still exists. (Have you seen “The Butler”?) We all wonder why we can’t have world peace, and then something like this comes along and explains so much.

  6. Here. Here! Nina’s sister was Miss St. Joe (Michigan) the year my daughter was in the pageant and they graduated together. I find it all shocking, as I’m sure they do. She and her sister are Americans, every bit as much as you and I. Deeply disappointing, all the flack this has brought about. But then what do we think the Obamas, despite the classy and impressive family they are, endure in Washington circles, certainly from congress. I’m with you, we have much work to do.

    • Oh Kim, I can’t imagine. Being the first family doesn’t exempt the racism that surely exists there. That’s cool about your daughter and Nina’s sister!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *