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Revelations: We are all American

Sept. 20, 2013 at 4:20 a.m.

Jennifer Preyss

I am a Southern American woman.

I was born and raised in Georgia. I have a native Atlantan Southern accent, and though I have traveled much in my life, I have always lived south of the Mason-Dixon line.

You could say that I'm a version of a typical, American woman.

I speak English, I shop at H-E-B, I go to church, I eat hamburgers, I graduated from a Georgia university, I believe in family values, and one day, I'm sure I'll probably move out to the suburbs and pop out 2.5 American children.

But what's great about being American is knowing that I'm among a diverse, ethnic mingling of race, creed and culture. In Texas alone, every nation is represented in someone's biological makeup.

I, too, am a mutt: I'm Icelandic (that's where I get my fair skin and freckles), German (that's where I get my last name, which was formerly Von Preyss) and Wolf Clan Cherokee Indian (which is where I get my high cheekbones).

I'm proud of my lineage and enjoy learning about my heritage. I wish, in fact, I knew more about each and made more of an effort to incorporate the traditions of my forefathers into my daily life.

So, if you can imagine, I was more than annoyed Monday morning when reports started spreading across the Internet that the 2014 Miss America, Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American Miss America in the pageant's history, was indeed not American.

I guess to some, Miss America cannot possibly be an Eastern-looking woman. To some, I guess she didn't look American enough?

But what does American mean anyway?

Davuluri is a dark-skinned beauty with a northern accent. She's a pre-med graduate of the University of Michigan. She hopes to use her $50,000 Miss America scholarship to pay for medical school and follow in her physician-parents' footsteps.

She's a woman with ambition, clearly demonstrated by her academic, pageantry and weight-loss achievements. (She lost more than 50 pounds to compete at pageant level.)

Yet some of the comments that hit Twitter within moments of Davuluri's crowning included tweets accusing the native New Yorker of being "foreign," "Arab" and "a terrorist."

Another Tweeter named her "Miss Al Qaeda," while another asked the Twitter universe, "WHEN WILL A WHITE WOMAN WIN #MISSAMERICA? Ever??!!"

After reading the Twitter comments, I felt saddened for our country. I know the comments may only represent a small majority of Twitter users, but statistically, Twitter users are supposed to be more well-read, current on worldly issues and statistically more liberal-minded.

So how is it that they could immediately trash a bright and beautiful young woman, a future doctor no less, simply because she's browner than they would prefer? For God's sake, she's American. And Americans should be proud to claim her. I certainly am.

So I hope you'll join me in applauding our next Miss America, our first Indian-American, for taking over the title for next year. I'm sure she'll do great things in the spotlight.

And for those of you who need any clarification, Indians are not Arab. And while there are many Muslims in India, as there are in the United States, the majority of Indians living in India by a very large margin practice Hinduism, not Islam. And also by a very large margin, most people who practice Islam are not terrorists.

And that's all this American, Southern Georgia white woman has to say about that.

Jennifer Preyss is the religion reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535, or on twitter @jenniferpreyss.

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