Miss America, Meet India’s ‘Dark’ Side

Tunku Varadarajan in The Daily Beast:

MissAmericaA woman of Indian origin, Nina Davuluri of New York, is the new Miss America. In the first wave of news about her winning this arguably outdated concourse, there was an almighty collision between two American cultural strains. The first celebrated her ascent to tiarahood, seeing hers as a triumph of diversity and assimilation (values that have not always marched in lockstep in this land). The Girl Next Door can be a dark-skinned daughter of immigrants from Andhra Pradesh, a state in the southeast of India whose inhabitants speak Telugu, 13th in the list of the most-spoken languages worldwide. Take a bow, America. (Compare this country with mostly dark-skinned Brazil, which has had not a single nonwhite Miss Brazil.)

The second cultural strain revealed itself in a torrent of abuse on Twitter and other forums. Some disenchanted Americans gave vent to a racial displeasure over this incomprehensibly exotic Miss America. “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic,” someone tweeted. (Dude, the Arab won Miss America in 2010. She’s called Rima Fakih.) The most frequent complaint was of the “This is America, not India” variety. The critics of Davuluri’s selection were, one can be sure, the kind of people who wouldn’t want our young Indian beauty queen as a neighbor, let alone as Miss America, so their views need not detain us.

More here.