IBJOpinion

HETRICK: There she is, Miss America, an ideal answer to racism

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Bruce Hetrick

A new Miss America was crowned last week. The 24-year-old Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, is a beauty. Smart, too. The would-be cardiologist was born in Syracuse and raised in New York, Oklahoma and Michigan. Her dad’s a gynecologist. Her mom’s a software engineer.

At the University of Michigan, where Davuluri earned her bachelor’s degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, she made the dean’s list and won academic awards.

But for a few ugly Americans emboldened by social media, it was an opportunity to judge Miss Davuluri not by “the content of her character,” but “by the color of her skin” (phrasing complements of Martin Luther King, Jr.).

CNN, NBC’s “Today,” the New York Post and others reported that Miss America’s crowning triggered offensive, racist tweeting.

Among the digs reported by the New York Post:

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote,” tweeted Elizabeth@EJR Buckeye.

(Davuluri is Hindu.)

“This is Miss America…Not Miss Foreign Country,” tweeted Meredith Talley (@meredithRoanell).

“She’s like not even american and she won miss america,” tweeted Kat@kathrynRyan50.

Among those tweets reported by NBC’s “Today”:

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you,” tweeted “De La Rutherford,” or @Blayne_MkltRain.

“9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets Miss America?” tweeted @LukeBrasili.

Nick Pizzo (@pizzo_nick) posted, “So miss america is a terrorist.”

“Today” noted that, “Many individuals who ranted over the Miss America decision pulled down their Twitter pages after media sites posted their comments.”

That’s like the Ku Klux Klan donning masks after burning a cross on the lawn.

Davuluri, who competed on the theme of “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency,” took the comments in stride.

“I have to rise above that,” said Davuluri. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

The tweets were similar to those greeting 11-year-old Sebastien De La Cruz after he donned his mariachi suit and sang the National Anthem at a June NBA finals game between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

Among those reported by CNN:

“Why they got a Mexican kid singing the national anthem … ,” from Daniel Gilmore.

“Why is a foreigner singing the national anthem. I realize that’s San Antonio but that still ain’t Mexico,” from Lewie Groh.

“Who let this illegal alien sing our national anthem?” from Matt Cyrus.

De La Cruz, once a contestant on “America’s Got Talent,” was born and raised in San Antonio, the son of a U.S. Navy veteran.

Like Davuluri, he reacted with more class than his accusers.

“Please do not pay attention to the negative people,” De La Cruz tweeted. “I am an American living the American Dream. This is part of the American life.”

So it is. Dreams and racism alike.

But here’s the rub. The 11-year-old Sebastiens, the 24-year-old Ninas, the graduate and undergraduate students in my classrooms, the young people known as the Millennials, the young people ready and willing to assume our community and workplace roles—they want, more than any generation before them, to move beyond racism, sexism, homophobia, silos, stereotypes and discrimination.

As we mark this year and those that follow the 50th anniversaries of the March on Washington, the Birmingham church bombing, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and so many other momentous events in the desegregation of America—and as we fight today over equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans—we’ll see not only how far we’ve come and how far we have to go, but also how broad the generation gap dividing these debates.

This was evidenced in recent weeks at the University of Alabama. The school newspaper, the Crimson White, reported on segregation in campus sororities.

In the 50 years since Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood on the Tuscaloosa campus steps and attempted to block admission of minority students, only one African-American woman has ever been admitted to a historically white University of Alabama sorority.

The Crimson White story focused on a highly qualified African-American student, one who’s the step-granddaughter of a university trustee, who failed to get a bid this year from any of the sororities she visited during recruitment.

Here’s the kicker: Sources told the newspaper it wasn’t collegians who rejected the young woman. It was alumni advisors. A generation gap at work.

On NPR, Lane McClelland, director of the Crossroads Community Center on campus, said, “I can’t go five steps without hearing another student talk about how important this is to them.”

Therein lies the hope: that with a new generation leading, the media spotlight shining, the racists shamed, the sororities at last looking more like the nation, and Miss Americas of every color crowned time and again, then the content of our nation’s character may at last deliver liberty and justice for all.•

__________

Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Yes, and in reverse...?
    Dear Bruce, thank you for your comments and insight. I share your dismay about the Univ of Alabama sororities, and I am hopeful that the next generation can take care of this topic once and for all. As the mother of two of them, ages 21 and 17, I have great hope for the future. Please know, however, that this type of discrimination does work in reverse. My daughter, at the age of 16, applied for a "multi-cultural" scholarship to a summer high school program at IU Bloomington. I went ahead and let her do it, knowing all along that our mixed heritage and cultures of Irish, Serbian, German and even a little bit of Cherokee Indian, would not qualify her for this scholarship. I knew that her qualifications: class rank, GPA, National Honor Society membership, etc., WOULD NOT COUNT on this application. After she was rejected (and after her black girlfriend with a lower class rank and GPA was awarded the scholarship), I had to explain to her the sorry truth: because our skin is white, and because our ancestry is primarily European, in the eyes of America, we are therefore absent of culture. So I hope in your wish for Miss Americas of all races, ethnicities, cultures, etc., that there is still room for a little green-eyed blonde who has never done a thing to hurt anyone, who doesn't have a racist bone in her body, and who, like your students, only wants to see all this nonsense go away. Thank you.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Here are a few candidates for this new group, "ripped from the headlines." First up, that bizzaro State Senator Brent Waltz; secondly, the unethical Todd Huston, and his contractual arrangements scheme; Finally, but not least of all, the dishonorable Eric Turner. What sayeth you Greg Zoeller?

  2. Good day. I can't hide this great testimony that take place in my life I will love everyone to know it and be partaker that is why I always place it on answer, I am Mrs,Natalie Cuttaia by name, I live in Texas, United State Of America, I want to thank (Mr.Bruce Brandon) for his kindness upon my family life. I never knew that there is still nice lender like this on internet and earth here. Just some Months Back, I was in search for a loan of $100,000,00 as I was running out of money for feeding and rent. I was scammed $6,800 Dollars and I decided not to involve my self in such business again but a Friend of my introduced me to a loan firm due to my appearance and doings. And I told him that I am not interested of any loan deal anymore but he told me that there is still a nice lender who he will recommend me to, and I made a trial and I am most grateful lucky am I today, I was given a loan amount of $100,000.00usd, by this great Company (Bruce Brandon Loan Company) managed by (Mr.Bruce Brandon) If you are in need of a genuine or legit loan or financial assistance and you can be reliable and trusted of capable of paying back at the due time of the funds I will advice you to, contact him via: ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com ) And you will be free from scams in the internet. All thanks to Mr.Bruce Brandon You are the one who remove me and my family out of poverty. The reason why i am doing this is that, i promise Mr.Bruce Brandon that if i truly got my loan, i will advertize his company and bring customers to his company. Contact him via ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com )for the Loan you have been looking for..

  3. Hello, We are firm Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help. So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com So do not let these opportunity pass you by because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please these is for serious minded and God fearing People. Your Name: Loan Amount: Loan Duration: Valid Cell Phone Number: Thanks for your understanding to your contact as we Await Regards Management Email:mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com

  4. The question is, where could they build a new stadium? It seems in the past year, all the prime spots have been spoken for with potential projects. Maybe in the industrial wasteland area a block past Lucas Oil? I think it needs to be close to the core, if a new stadium is built.

  5. Aldi is generally a great shopping experience. Still, I'm sure YOU wouldn't want to shop there, which I consider a positive.

ADVERTISEMENT