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Miss America crowns 1st winner of Indian descent; racist tweets flow

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Leslie Bentz, (CNN) — No sooner had the tiara been placed atop her head than a barrage of racist tweets flooded the Internet.

“If you’re #Miss America you should have to be American,” said one.

“WHEN WILL A WHITE WOMAN WIN #MISSAMERICA? Ever??!!” screamed another.

Nina Davuluri is American. She just happens to be of Indian descent. In fact, she’s the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America.


But the tweets that followed the 2014 pageant in Atlantic City on Sunday night didn’t focus on how it’s the second consecutive year that a Miss New York has taken the crown, or about the judge’s questions (including ones about Miley Cyrus and Syria).

They were about Davuluri’s heritage.

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote,” vented one person.

Not that it bears pointing out, but Davuluri’s not a Muslim — and the president didn’t have a vote.

The 24-year-old Davuluri, who’s from Syracuse, competed on a platform of “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency.” For the talent portion, she performed a classical Indian dance fused with Bollywood moves.

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“The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica.” That was Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary.

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“Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11,” tweeted Jalin Leatherman, perpetuating the tired stereotype about Indians and convenience stores.

Davuluri’s father is a physician. And she wants to be one too. She once battled bulimia, according to a profile of her on syracuse.com.

Being a trailblazer isn’t easy. When Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA in 2010, she faced a nasty backlash as well. Fakih is of Lebanese descent, and many were quick to try to link her to the militant group Hezbollah.

In Davuluri’s case, many tweeters wasted no time connecting her to terrorism.

“Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?” tweeted Shannon McCann.

Others invoked the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Yes, really.

“9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?” posted Luke Brasili

For her part, Davuluri didn’t immediately respond.

But many, turned off by the reaction, turned off Twitter and turned in for the night.

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“I’m not going to click on #MissAmerica. I could do without a whole bunch of racism directed at brown people right now. Thanks,” tweeted Josh Shahryar.

But there were plenty who came to her defense.


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“i think its amazing that @NinaDavuluri was crowned Miss America. THIS is the american story,” tweeted drummer Questlove.

And finally, there were those who tweeted variations on “Deal with it!”

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“meanwhile in america, our country’s citizens have officially reached their lowest point. #MissAmerica is Indian; GET OVER IT,” wrote Mariah Contreras.

Well said, Mariah, well said.


CNN’s AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.


  • roberta

    whatever happen to the american dream people!!! You come to America to better your life and become american citizen. All this racial crap is for the birds!!! True americans would not judge others, but help them achieve their dreams.

    • Linda

      what does it matter what race we all are, does it make some people feel better when they judge other people, I guess it does…so sad

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