What an Indian @MissAmerica (Nina Davuluri) means to other #ABCDs
Tonight, America made strides in showing just how diverse the people who make it up truly are when it chose to crown Nina Davuluri, American of Indian descent, as Miss America 2014. Nina’s definitely not the first Indian to be on the Miss America pageant stage (and
hopefully certainly not the last), but she is the first to ever win the competition. As the winner, she will now travel the US, speaking to audiences about her competition platform to promote diversity through cultural competency. And god, she is gorgeous!
We’re making history… as Asian-Americans right here, so we’re really proud – Nina Davuluri on the top 2 contestants being minorities.
So, this girl has the intelligence (degree in brain behavior and cognitive science), athleticism (try pulling off a Bollywood dance routine and you’ll understand what I mean) and she has a beautiful soul (she volunteers like crazy). I know all of her family’s friends will be asking her parents about her pending nuptials — this girl is 24; I’m only 22 and I already have family friends asking me if I’m dating anyone and when I’m getting married. I usually answer something snarky and sarcastic because I can get away with it, but I feel bad for her; I know that the aunties and uncles and going to be gossiping away about her love life now if they had not already started before.
So the point of all of this: what this win means for Indians who live in America.
What Nina has done by being the great person she is (at least on paper – I don’t really know her ) is allow for people all around this nation to view Indians differently from their preconceived stereotypes that are usually placed upon them — we are NOT all
terrorists doctors, engineers, taxi drivers, gas station owners, franchise business owners, hotel managers, etc… We are all as varied as people of other races! Hell, look at me. I’m in communications; while most people see me and think, oh he must be good at math and science (which I am 🙂 ), I, along with so many other Indians don’t fit into one specific stereotype. Nina will be able to show just how awesome Indians (and other minorities) are through her nation-wide tours.
Nina, like Vanessa Williams in 1984 and Angela Perez-Baraquio in 2001, whether she wants to or not, now serves as a role model of how America really is a diverse nation made up of various other cultures that meld together to form what we know as the US. While many people in the US may disagree with that statement (look to my neighbors in the South and Midwest for the most rampant of examples), these women prove that minorities do make up a big chunk of the American population and should be heard.
I have to hand it to her — she pulled off her Bollywood performance flawlessly. Seeing her cut a rug on that stage makes me want to start choreographing again. Here’s the performance if you missed it:
Please don’t mind the high-pitched version of the song. This was the only HQ version I could find
As I referenced in the headline for this post, Nina is making strides in how ABCDs (American-Born-Confused-Desis — thank you, American Desi!) relate to themselves within the context of their conflicting Eastern and Western cultural influences. She is showing us (and the world) that it’s okay to be diverse; we are all beautiful, amazing, charitable people. The best part is that for young children, especially Indian girls, Nina now represents how they should view themselves: as confident, beautiful girls who are a part of the American way. Things like this can help those little Indian kids with their self esteem. Now, my niece and nephew can say to their friends (if they really wanted to) that they’re Indian just like Miss America. It shows that we as ABCDs are just as American as anyone else who was born or raised here.
I want to conclude with the fact that whether it’s an Indian actor signing on for a high profile role in a still-strong movie franchise (Deepika Padukone in Fast 7 or Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), model/actor/activists topping the Billboard charts (look to Priyanka Chopra and A.R. Rahman) or the frequent stops you make at your favorite yoga place, Indian culture is much more prevalent and a part of your life than you could have even imagined. We, as Indians born here in America, make sure that we stay true to our roots, all the while assimilating ourselves to our existing environments. Nina’s win will show Indians who grow up here just how awesome it is to be themselves.