Only moments after 24-year-old Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America 2014 on Sunday night, Twitter exploded with a flurry of racist comments targeting Davuluri’s Indian heritage. The new Miss America is undeterred by the comments, however, stating that she plans to “rise above” the uproar over her heritage.
Many of the angry tweets directed at Davuluri attacked her for supposedly not being “American” enough, despite the fact that she was born in Syracuse, N.Y. As a Buzzfeed list points out, several other Twitter users mistakenly identified Davuluri as an Arab or Muslim, erroneously claiming that she may have some ties to al Qaeda or other jihadist organizations.
Despite the racist outrage against an Indian-American being crowned Miss America 2014, Davuluri has done her part to stay calm amidst the controversy.
"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she said at a press conference after her win. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."
As for the racist comments, Davuluri says she plans to rise above them and celebrate her win.
"I have to rise above that," she said. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."
On a Monday morning appearance on “Good Morning America,” Davuluri reiterated that she was proud of her performance, her Miss America title and her heritage. She says she is especially proud of her Bollywood dance performance, stating that the dance allowed her to showcase a new type of dance and performance to many Americans that may have been unfamiliar with the art.
"It's the first time Bollywood has ever been performed on the Miss America stage, and it's such an honor for myself, my family and the Indian community, as well,” Davuluri stated.
Davuluri's family is proud of her win as well. Her 89-year-old grandmother told the Guardian that she cried upon seeing Davuluri crowned Miss America.
"I am very, very, happy for the girl. It was her dream and it was fulfilled," V. Koteshwaramma told the Guardian from her home in the city of Vijaywada, India.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.