Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miss America 2014 welcomed with racist comments on social media

“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
- Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014 

On Sunday, September 15, the country watched eagerly as the Miss America Organization, "one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women," prepared to crown the 2014 Miss America in the 87th annual pageant. The winner, Nina Davuluri of New York, is the first Indian-American to win the highly sought-after title, but this great achievement in cultural diversity was met instead with racist and hateful comments on social media. 

Comments like "Miss New York is an Indian...With all do respect, this is America" and "Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda" (these being some of the least harsh responses) flooded Twitter and the internet. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, responded that “It is deeply troubling that the crowning of the first woman of Indian descent to win the Miss America pageant – an achievement to be celebrated – has been greeted with a series of racist and hate-filled messages on Twitter and other social media."

"Racist Twitter Attacks Miss America," a video montage of Twitter comments made following the Miss America pageant. Courtesy of The Daily Beast/Newsweek. 

In July we hosted Dr. Bill Howe for What Can You Do to Fight Intolerance?, a workshop on cultural diversity and competency. Dr. Howe addressed the racism, xenophobia and intolerance that are prevalent problems in our country and the need to fight such injustices. One exercise involved finding a stranger in the audience and sharing what people say about you based on your race or ethnicity. The group listened and learned about how quick people are to judge others simply by appearance and stereotypes - precisely what happened to Nina Davuluri. Dr. Howe provided strategies for overcoming discrimination and working to increase cultural competency, which can be read in our blog post HERE. These resources are especially timely and the racist comments following the Miss America pageant are yet another call to action on cultural diversity. 

Nina Davuluri has taken a strong stance against the racist response to her crowning, stating that “I have to rise above that...I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” In an effort to combat the adversity she is experiencing, her personal platform for 2014 will be "Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency," a social media campaign to celebrate diversity and encourage cultural competency. Visit http://www.missamerica.org for more information and to get involved. 

In light of the Miss America pageant and Dr. Howe's workshop, what will you do to improve cultural competency? What was your reaction to the racist social media response to Nina Davuluri's crowning?  Would you be interested in attending another Stowe Center diversity workshop in the future? Share your comments below!

For more information about the racist response to Nina Davuluri's crowning as Miss America, we suggest one of the articles below: 


TIME Magazine
"Miss America Victory Marred by Racist Slurs"
by Sophie Brown

1 comment:

Francine said...

Interesting Newsweek article about Vanessa Williams - first black woman to be named Miss America - and her reactions to the recent racism towards Nina, and the similar reactions she experienced in 1983/84. Such a shame that people still think that way...