Sunday night I watched the Miss America pageant for the first time in such a long time, I can’t even remember the last time I watched it. It went by faster than I remembered. It was also incredibly more diverse than I remembered. Don’t get me wrong, it was still predominantly your typical white, well educated, middle class, skinny women. I am of the generation of Vanessa Williams being crowned the first black Miss America. So, I was thrilled to see how it’s changed.
As I settled in to watch the show and I saw a black Miss Texas, I knew something was up. As usual, I chose my top three, California, New York and Texas. Each round came up and my girls were still in it. Miss Texas didn’t make it to the top five. Miss California and Miss New York were the last two standing. Then the winner is announced and the first American of East Indian descent was crowned as Miss America. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, was crowned Miss America 2014. Her pageant platform is “celebrating diversity through cultural competency.” I was thrilled!
Since I had been tweeting for the whole show, once she won I went back on to see reactions. I was so disappointed when almost as soon as she was crowned, the racists took to Twitter with hateful messages. According to them, Miss America is supposed to be someone like Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. She’s a National Guard soldier that works as a mechanic, hunts with a crossbow and shoots M-16’s. In fact, she wanted to do archery as her talent but Miss America has a rule against projectiles. So, instead she taught herself a Puccini piece from You Tube at the last moment. She did contribute her own Miss America pageant first, she displayed her tattoo of the “Serenity Prayer” during the swimsuit competition. Apparently tattoos are acceptable and lady like pursuits are no longer necessary as long as she’s a white, middle class skinny chick.
By contrast, Ms. Davuluri is a decorated scholar that will be using the $50K scholarship she received to help with her medical school tuition. She is going into the family business, medicine. Her father is a gynecologist and her sister is a third year medical student. She danced a Bollywood fusion dance that made me breathless to watch. She’s been studying dance for most of her life.
Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t have anything against white, middle class women. The point is that we are a country filled with lots of different types of people. When I was growing up, we were taught that America was a melting pot. We all came from people that came from different places and our country was richer for it. It was something that we celebrated in our classrooms. Unlike other countries, you can’t just look at a person and say they that they were American. So, when I watched the pageant last night, for the first time I saw a truer representation of the America I know.
Between Nina’s win and Mario Cantone saying GAY on LIVE TV, twice, this year’s Miss America pageant made me believe that one day, in the not too distant future, we will crown the first lesbian Miss America. Diversity is a beautiful thing indeed.