People constantly judge, and at times it can be very hurtful and wrongly targeted towards specific groups of people. Judgments such as these are referred to as stereotypes and are found everywhere, from school to the media, and are extremely damaging to society as a whole. Most recently, stereotyping has been found at the Miss America Beauty Pageant where 24 year old Nina Davuluri, 2013 winner of the Miss America Pageant and American-Indian, has been criticized on her ethnic background. Some were outraged by her winning, and negative remarks began accumulating on Twitter, remarks such as, “this is America, not India,” and, “the Arab wins Miss America. Classic”. Some even tied her in with al-Qaeda, a terrorist group, saying,” Miss America right now or Miss al-Qaeda?” and other nasty things. Instead of supporting the newly crowned Miss America people alternatively credited runner up, Theresa Veil, as being “the true Miss America” due to her looks.
Not only do these types of comments affect the victims self-confidence and image, they pick apart at our society bit by bit, turning against each other solely based on appearance. America is often said to represent a cultural “melting pot” because of all the different types of people found here, all coming together to merge into one community, but we cannot do so if we get hung up over trivial things such as skin color and ethnicity. We cannot progress as a society if some still cling to old ways and notions. The only way to move forward is to see past superficial aspects of people, something that Nina has been doing from a young age, as many a time she had to correct people on her beliefs and culture. Ultimately, the real question is why do we criticize and seek to bring down people who are different from the norm? Why do we hold these preconceived notions of a group of people, people who deserve better than the way they are sometimes treated? Society needs a change, society needs to look at things from a broader perspectives. The critics need to see that Nina is American, and in fact defines what being American is all about, America is a “melting pot.” Change will take time, but it is essential for progress.
– Written by Ziyad Khan (Leadership Team Member)