#682 – Miss America, the Internet and Racism



This past weekend Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America. Davuluri’s parents were born in India and immigrated to the United States. Davuluri was born in the United States, is an American citizen and a great example of our nation’s diversity.

Some people didn’t share that sentiment, though.

After Davuluri won the Miss America Pageant some people took to Twitter to share myriad racist, ethnocentric and ignorant opinions. Many websites have chosen to share some of those tweets along with the accounts of those who shared them. I don’t want to do that. Suffice it to say, most of the tweets incorrectly labeled Davuluri as a Muslim, wondered what a foreigner was doing winning the Miss America Pageant and compared her to a terrorist.

The Internet, for all of its wonders, can still be an ugly place.

I was most intrigued by the backlash of this incident. As I said many websites published the Twitter accounts of those sharing racist and ignorant thoughts. A quick search on Twitter revealed that those offended by racism can be just as offensive in their response.

Those whose racist tweets were shared with the Internet faced hundreds of people ridiculing them, calling them ignorant and using some of what Captain Kirk identified as “colorful language.” There was so much anger and vitriol directed towards some of the people that they chose to delete their accounts.

Now I don’t support racism at all and I was thoroughly offended by the tweets that I read. However, even with something as ugly as racism, we need to respond with grace and forgiveness.

It’s really easy to tweet something offensive or inappropriate. If we have, hopefully we realized it and deleted the post or had a caring friend confront us about it. I’m sure most of these people shared something in the moment and couldn’t have dreamed that their post would be shared with the entire Internet. I can’t imagine all of these people are as racist or ignorant as one tweet would make them seem.

However, as we can learn from this example, one tweet is all it takes for the world to come crashing down on us. Most of the time we forget how powerful social media actually are. They’re fun to share our thoughts and pictures of food but they also have the power to change our lives.

And whether we’re the ones offending or being offended through social media, we need to respond with grace. Social media are a small glimpse of a person’s true nature. We may not like what we see in that glimpse, but the whole person needs just as much grace as we do.

How have you needed grace on social media?


2 comments on “#682 – Miss America, the Internet and Racism”

  1. Terrific and timely response, Scott. Personally, my favorite tweet about the whole business was Betty White’s: “Isn’t the real controversy that we even still *have* a [redacted] Miss America pageant?” Yeah, she cursed, but I thought it was an excellent point.

    I am always surprised, though I guess I shouldn’t be any more, at what prompts America’s racism to rear its ugly head. And while I agree that we should interact with folks on social media with grace and forgiveness, I sometimes wonder if the better thing isn’t just to ignore them (if we aren’t compelled by real life circumstances to respond).

    (I would be remiss as a Trekkie if I didn’t point out — gracefully — that the phrase *Spock* coins in Star Trek IV is actually “colorful metaphors.” Accuracy in nerdiness!)

    Good job on this one. Thanks for it!

    1. I really need to watch the movies again.

      I definitely think ignoring racism and any kind of trolling online is the best unless, like you said, we can make an impact in real life.

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