Beauty contest are outdated, even if their contenders these days are tattooed and carry good degrees from renomated universities. Even so, they grab screen time and headlines. No more so than Miss America 2014, who was apparently elected prematurely yesterday.
The new Miss America is a Miss Davuluri, the first Miss America of Indian descent. Born in America to Indian parents. So she looks Indian. Does that make her less American? Apparently so, according to an uncomfortable internet backlash, which finds the new Miss America to be undeserving of her title.
Such comments are bandied about routinely in every country around the world, but the web provides a transparent channel where these comments can be documented and shared. A world where people can say what they really think. And what they really think can at times be alarming.
Everyone has a heritage. Every parent provides an upbringing, shaped knowingly and subliminally by the culture, religion and country that they know. As travel becomes easier and boundaries and people become more open, these cultural influences become hopefully richer and more varied. These nuances cannot be interpreted simply by assessing the colour of someone’s skin or by checking the sleeve of their passport. Until we learn to see that, all of us will discriminate just “a little”, as reported helpfully in the Guardian today from a survey in Britain.
Somehow I thought America and the American dream was different. Miss America has proved that it is sadly not the case.