Miss America and Her Racialized-Gendered Coronation

Tirhakah Love (@catalytic92)

The beautiful Nina Davuluri wins the Miss America crown amidst racism, sexism.
The beautiful Nina Davuluri wins the Miss America crown amidst racism, sexism.

Miss America was crowned last night (Sunday September 15th) in Atlantic City, NJ. Her name, Nina Davuluri. Her state, New York. Usually the conversations following one of these pageants range from intra-state disputes on who’s state is the prettiest, what gaff one of the contestants made during the Q&A, and what talent each of the ladies performed. However, this year’s conversations were full of racist, sexist, and anti-Muslim discussions, erupting on social networks, calling into question the American-ness of the winner. Davuluri, in pure Miss America fashion, has decided to “rise above the detractors” and celebrate her win with her family. But that will not stop those detractors from expressing their hate.

If it was not clear before, Davuluri is the first Indian-American woman to win the famed prize. Not only does this mean she will endure mass amounts of hate on social networking sites, but as she roams the streets (of her hometown or otherwise) she will now be subject to even more racialized hate—probably much more than she was experiencing before. But if racism is not hard enough to endure for the young (24) winner, Davuluri will now experience even more marginalization for her racialized-gender as well.

To be sure, oft the winner of these prizes will incur daily messages of sexist proclamation, stemming from her identity as a woman. Winners are stigmatized in the media for publicly having fun with friends at clubs or bars or exploring their sexuality. This stigmatization retroactively reinforces the politics of respectability, further pushing women of color into the margins of American social standing.

Clearly the backlash that she will receive is telling of the state of our country. Built up in the idealistic language of freedom and equality, the United States has largely practiced marginalization since its inception and this instance is no different. “How is it possible,” bigots will inquire, “that an Indian, a Muslim, Indian could be crowned Miss America?” Never mind the fact that 1) Davuluri is American and 2) she is not Muslim, racial and anti-Islamic language will follow her simply because of her Indian-American status.

What a crude joke America has played on the woman of color. To praise so adamantly about the wonderful work women do to literally produce the future but quickly reprimand one for simply being a non-white citizen of this country. If there is anything that we can take away from the pageant and its subsequent backlash, it is this, women of color continue to be one of the most marginalized and exploited citizens of this country, and even when they place their talents, intellect, and eloquence on a national stage, they are still considered unworthy.

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