Cultural diversity and ignorance

Jodi-Ann Richards/Contributing Writer 

Recently, a 24-year-old from New York, Nina Davuluri, secured her place in American history by becoming the first woman of Indian heritage to win the Miss America pageant. Many Americans including Tyra Banks were happy for Davuluri and had no problem with her ethnicity. However, there were some Americans who responded differently.

Some people might say they don’t think beauty pageants are relevant, but the negative response from members of the country revealed racism and stereotyping still present in America.

One person tweeted, “Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.” After Davuluri’s win another person tweeted, “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.”

Nina Davuluri was not the first Miss America winner to get a backlash of hate.

In 1984, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American woman to win, after which she received death threats and angry racist hate mail. In 2010, Rima Fakih also made history by becoming the first Arab-American to be crowned Miss America. Some Americans were not happy because of the tendency to relate Arabs to the 9/11 attacks.

As I read the disrespectful tweets about Davuluri, I thought to myself that this racism and hate stems from a lack of understanding about other cultures and a misunderstanding of what it means to be an American.

One tweet that caught my attention read, “Man our president nor our new Miss America isn’t even American; I’m sorry, but Miss Kansas, I salute you, you’re the real American.”

So, what is it that defines us as Americans? What does an American look like or what is an American supposed to like?

The United States was established by immigrants with no special attention for a particular race or religion. That has always been one of the strengths of this country: to be a land of opportunity for people no matter what their ethnicity is or where they come from. So persons who think that this country is only for a particular group of people don’t understand what it means to be a true American.

The United States is the largest melting pot in the world and as such I think it would be good to have more campaigns and discussions in this country about cultural diversity and tolerance. I am glad that our University has an Office of Global Learning Initiative. This initiative includes curricular and co-curricular elements, which give you the opportunity to learn about and actively engage with the rest of the world. You have options that range from taking global learning courses to studying abroad.

We all share this planet, and it’s time for us to explore and learn about the rest of the world. We might just see less of the hate and stereotyping that Davuluri, Fakih and Williams experienced. More people might realize that one person cannot be defined by the actions of others.

I am my own person. I choose to rise above stereotype labels and live by what it truly means to be an American. 

Be the first to comment on "Cultural diversity and ignorance"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.