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The crowning of the 2014 Miss America brings out more racism in America.
Racism sucks. Retrieved from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newstaco/5635106360/in/faves-18687099@N04/

Just last week, I was having a conversation with a white colleague who asked me why it would be racist for white people to have their own television channel such as BET, or an agency that would fight for their rights such as the NAACP, or an all-white college like all-black colleges. To begin with, I reminded him, in terms of BET, blacks were never allowed to be a part of the majority white entertainment industry unless they adapted stereotypical roles that appeased the palate of white Americans. BET, along with magazines such as Ebony and Jet were created to ensure that blacks could see themselves from a perspective that was more realistic of themselves and to promote positive reinforcements, as opposed to the way their images were being projected by those who felt the need to conform to racism whims. Needless to say, BET no longer reflects that perspective, as it was purchased from its founder Robert L. Johnson by VIACOM in 2000. [1] VIACOM is one the top eight media giants who own that mass majority of the media industry which include television, film, the internet, publishing, and cable. [2] In other words, these corporations control what we as consumers watch and buy. They are, in many ways responsible for what we think, feel and conform to.

Since VIACOM bought the network, BET has stopped being a source of positivity for blacks. In the 1980’s and 1990’s BET refused to show programming that it felt exploited its people. While other networks were showing negative black images, BET displayed shows for teenagers, such as Teen Summit, and adult shows, such as BET News, which showed the news from a black perspective, and music video shows like Video Soul that steered music towards a loving, relationship/family-supportive atmosphere, as opposed to networks like MTV, which had no qualms with displaying the negative forces of the hip hop industry. Not that BET avoided hip hop, but they played positive hip hop that reflected affirmative change in the black community. Since VIACOM’s purchase, BET has been more like a Blaxpliotated network, which seems bent on promoting drug involvement, violence, discord between the sexes, and buffoonery with its programming.

In regard to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) (NAACP), this organization along with others like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), and SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), were and are still needed to fight for the rights and inclusion of people of color into American society. The rights afforded by the United States Constitution, United States Bill of Rights, and individual State Constitutions were written for white Americans only and had to be opposed through struggle by these organizations to bring changes that would include all citizens in the American paradigm. [3] What purpose would a group of this magnitude serve for white Americans?

I also reminded him that black colleges are termed HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), with an emphasis on the word Historically. These colleges were instituted because blacks weren’t allowed to attend all white colleges and universities, and even today, they serve as positive cultural institutions for blacks. And yes, whites can enroll and attend if they so wish.

His retort to my defense of the argument was, of course, can a white woman enter the Black Miss America pageant? And if they couldn’t, why not? My answer was no, and because white women are not black. His contention was that blacks should not be able to have their own pageant, and be allowed to enter the national Miss America pageant too… I will bypass the answer that I gave him, and move towards the purpose of bringing up the conversation in the first place.

On Sunday September 15, 2013, the judges crowned Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, the new Miss America for 2014. [4] A proud moment for America – again! Really. In this day and time, when diversity and tolerance are once again being called for in the midst of the blatant racism that has been at the forefront of American conversations over the last six years (and beyond), the judges got it right. Ms. Davuluri is beautiful, talented, has great aspirations, and is as deserving as any to be Miss America. I am proud of her, the other 52 contestants who challenged her, and more specifically the judges, who judged the way they were supposed to, without fear of any blowback from their decision. However…

Nina Davuluri, 2014 Miss America

"Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate."
Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Frederick Hickman, 1935 [5]
The first Miss America was crowned in 1921. [6] In the 92 year history of the Miss America pageant, 82 winners have been white American, 8 black American, 1 Pacific Island American, and now 1 Asian American. [7] [8] In the past thirty years, since Vanessa Williams became the first Miss America of color and the first black woman to win the pageant on September 18, 1983, ten women of color out of thirty winners is fair. That’s a third of the winners. I have no problem with that. And by now, neither should other Americans. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

This is the way some Americans expressed through tweets how they felt about Davuluri’s victory:

“And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.” [9]

“How the f*** does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots.” [9]

“The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values.” [9]

“I swear I’m not racist but this is America.” [10]

“9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets Miss America?” [10]

“@ABC2020 nice slap in the face to the people of 9-11 how pathetic #missamerica.” [10]

“Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11” [10]

“Man our president nor our new Miss America isn't even American I'm sorry but Miss Kansas I salute you your the real American #MissAmerica” [10]

“Darn..I wish Miss Kansas would've won! Real American woman.” [10]

Really, America? Seriously? For real? First let’s make this clear. Nina Davuluri is not an immigrant. She’s an American, born and raised in Syracuse, New York. She didn’t come from a broken home, nor does she have ties to Al-Qaida. Her father is a doctor and that’s what she aspires to be. Not a terrorist. Furthermore, she’s not an Arab. She’s an Indian… from India! [11] Why should she be denied the right to be proud of her culture and ancestry?

And so what if she was an Arab? My ancestors are from Algeria and Morocco, which are considered Arab nations. Should I be held accountable for what I consider to be America’s greatest modern tragedy? I’m offended by the implication. I grew up in poverty in an American city, served and gave in the American Armed Forces (and I was not a conscientious objector during Operation Desert Shield/Storm), have been educated at a major American state university, and continue to serve my country and its people through government work. I still get chills everytime I hear the National Anthem. I'm just as much an American as everyone else. And so is Davuluri. And for thinking otherwise, you should be ashamed. Those who have made contributions to the nation and have sacrificed for the love of America can understand how I feel. For those who have done nothing but rest on the laurels of their whiteness... How dare you…

The fact is that Nina Davuluri (as well as myself) has just as much right to be an American – and all the privileges that go with it – as every one of you who feels that she doesn’t. Shall I remind you that only those whom we refer to as Native Americans are the only true Americans living in this country? Everyone else is an immigrant or descendant of an immigrant - or a descendant of those stolen from their continent for the purpose of providing free labor to those who are still benefitting from it.

And as far as I can remember, the Statue of Liberty, located in the very state that Davuluri represents, has a bronze plaque which reads as follows: [12]

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.  
Isn’t that the very reason why we are all here? Isn’t the freedom to breathe what we are all longing for? Why do we choose to give that freedom to some, but wish to take it from others who are law abiding citizens? Maybe it’s because we are more racists as Americans than we let on to be. Maybe it’s because we need more education. Maybe it’s because we need more conversations on race, whether we think we do or not. Maybe it’s because we really need to look beyond our selfishness, our insecurities, and our immaturities. Maybe we need to admit that we as a nation have a problem. As I’ve said before, the first step in treating any psychosis is to admit that we are sick in the first place. And we are…

Having said that, I must agree with Frederick Hickman. Miss Nina Davuluri, “represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate." Kudos to you 2014 Miss America, for given your response to the way you have been treated (“I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” [11]), you truly represent us. And for that, I am proud.

Sources
1.    Beltran, Luisa (2000). Viacom pays $2.3B for BET, CNN Money. November 3, 2000. Retrieved from: http://money.cnn.com/...
2.    Public Broadcasting Station – PBS, (2002), Merchants of Cool, Frontline, November, 2002. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/...
3.    Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at The University of Southern Mississippi, (2000). Ordinary People Living Extraordinary Lives: the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi.  Retrieved from: http://www.usm.edu/...
4.    Parry, Wayne (2013). Miss America 2014 cheers pageant's diversity, MSN News, September 16, 2013. Retrieved from: http://news.msn.com/...
5.    Top Latest News (2011). Miss America 2011 plans to become a politician, Top Latest news, June 19, 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.toplatestnews.com/...
6.    Miss America Organization (2013). Miss America History. Retrieved from: http://www.missamerica.org/...
7.    Watson, Elwood (2013). Beneficial for Women of Color, The New York Times, September 12, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/...
8.    Miss America Organization (2013). Miss America 2001. Retrieved from: http://www.missamerica.org/...
9.    Gordon, Taylor (2013). Racist Tweets Surge After Indian-American Wins Miss America Title, Atlanta Black Star, September 16, 2013. Retrieved from: http://atlantablackstar.com/...
10.    Broderick, Ryan (2013). A Lot of People are Very Upset that an Indian-American Woman Won the Miss America Pageant, Buzz Feed, September 16, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.buzzfeed.com/...
11.    Kim, Eun Kyung, (2013). New Miss America's Indian heritage sparks racist comments, Today, September 16, 2013. Retrieved from:  http://www.today.com/...
12.    Liberty State Park, Liberty Science Center (No Date). Statue of Liberty National Monument. Retrieved from: http://libertystatepark.com/...

6:28 PM PT: I know it's been a while since I've written. I haven't gone anywhere and I'm still an active part of our community. I missed you all, though. I still read the diaries. I've just been working alot. However, whenever I feel the necessity, I will write!


Originally posted to Will Smith on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group, Badger State Progressive, Black Kos community, and Barriers and Bridges.

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