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Beauty pageant reveals an ugly America

By Pooja KumbharColumnist

The United States of America turned 237 years old this year. Pride runs deep within the people of this nation. And why shouldn’t it? We are undoubtedly the greatest nation in the world. We have accomplished milestones from the abolishment of slavery, to women’s suffrage, to the overcoming of the last racial barrier in American politics with Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election victory.

But now it seems as if there might be no hope at all for America and its humanity. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, became the first contestant of Indian descent to be crowned Miss America on Sept. 15. Immediately after her win was announced, Twitter exploded with hateful messages - people calling her Arab, referring to her as “Miss Al-Qaueda” and associating her with 9/11. Even more appalling was that it became a trending topic on Twitter. This is frightening because the age range among Twitter users is from 18-29. That is our generation.

We are considered to be much bigger conformists than the radical, individualistic X-ers that came before us because we have learned from history to value and understand our American roots. As members of Generation-Y, we desire to have an impact on the world, yet we cannot accept something so simple as the diversity of our nation.

It is one thing to be a racist, but even worse are uninformed, thickheaded racists who make blatant remarks with no backing. Our country has been involved with the Middle East for as long as three presidential terms, continuing its fourth. The media divulges so much about the region, yet Americans still do not know their geography when referring to Duvulari as an Arab.

Duvulari is an American woman of Indian decent and Hindu faith. India is not part of the Middle East, and Arabs have completely different roots and geographical origin. Regardless, it would not matter if she were Arab; the beauty pageant seeks Americans, and we are all Americans in this nation.

Maybe we can let it slide that some self-absorbed people do not know their geography outside of America, but at least know the fundamentals of the American society in which we live. Some went as far as tweeting, “This is Miss America, not Miss Foreign Country.” The only true people of this country are the Native Americans, whom we, the immigrants, kicked out. Every person that lives here has at some point emigrated from another nation. The definition of being American is a collection of diverse races, religions, and ethnicities. We are a melting pot.

Wake up call to those racist tweeters: take a look around you; there are different kinds of people everywhere. We have a half black president, two Hispanic state governors and two of Indian descent. Hillary Clinton’s long time aide, Huma Abedin, is a devout Muslim. The guy who pumps your gas is of Turkish descent. The tech at the Apple store who fixes your laptop is of Chinese descent. The guys who own the bar you hang out at are of Italian descent.

Our own university is a perfect example. Over 30 percent of Hofstra undergraduate students are non-white, and we have an overwhelming number of international students from all over the world, as well as clubs and organizations for all sorts of ethnic backgrounds and religions. And the wonderful thing about this campus is that at the end of the day, we come together as students with nothing but Hofstra pride.

The 2014 Miss America Beauty Pageant brought attention to a different matter than expected, opening the eyes of young Americans to the bigotry and close-mindedness that still exists in our nation. We are further than we think from the day we are to “live in a nation where we will not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character”

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