ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Miss America pageant returned to Atlantic City over the weekend for the first time in six years, and once again, the Empire State won big with Miss New York taking the crown.
But as CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, new winner Nina Davuluri has been facing fierce backlash for becoming the first Miss America of Indian heritage.
The 24-year-old Syracuse native’s achievement was a shining moment for fellow Indian-Americans.
“I think it’s awesome that someone does something unique like that and is trying to blaze a trail for others,” said Bharani Rajakumar of the Upper East Side.
But soon after being crowned, Davuluri’s victory led to some racist comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant.
“Is Miss America even American?!,” said one tweet.
“#MissAmerica ‘s name does not sounds very American…#justsaying,” said another.
“This is Miss America… Not Miss Foreign Country,” another person tweeted.
“Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11,” someone else tweeted.
New Yorkers were shocked at the comments.
“It’s absolutely not fair,” said Ginny Johnson of Chelsea. “We’re a melting pot society, especially since she’s from New York.”
“She’s American regardless. She could be white, blue, green — she’s American,” added Kay Johnson of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “It doesn’t matter where she’s from.”
Others Twitter users also came to her defense and celebrated Davuluri’s win.
“Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America,” said one tweet.
“i think its amazing that @NinaDavuluri was crowned Miss America. THIS is the american story,” said another.
“No matter what anyone says congrats #MissAmerica for making history,” another person tweeted.
The Anti-Defamation League also condemned the online comments, calling them “deeply troubling.”
“It is a sad reflection both on the medium of social media, where conversations about public events can quickly turn into bigoted and hateful speech, and the message, the pernicious notion that a person of minority descent is not entitled to full status as an American citizen,” ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement.
The biased comments came after Davuluri herself was recently at the center of controversy, with rumors of her allegedly calling her predecessor, Mallory Hagen, fat.
The pageant and Davuluri deny the allegations.
“Hopefully, she shrugs it off and keeps it going because it’s tough to blaze a trail, and it’s really neat that she’s doing it,” Rajakumar said.
The native of Syracuse wants to be a doctor, and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.
She is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the Miss America crown, succeeding Hagan, who was selected in January when the pageant was still held in Las Vegas. The Miss America Organization will compensate Hagan for her shortened reign.
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