America is all about advancement, right? We’re about taking steps forward and setting examples. Founded on these very ideals, the racist and misinformed responses to the 2013 Miss America pageant were downright appalling.

Last week, Miss America’s first winner of Indian descent was crowned. Both beautiful and brilliant, Nina Davuluri will serve as an example to all, with her impressive résumé and background. While studying at the University of Michigan, Davuluri earned a place on the Dean’s list, as well as merit awards. She also was a member of their National Honor Society.

More impressively, Davuluri graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. Davuluri hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor. Throughout her year as Miss America, Davuluri will travel to Washington D.C. and serve as a spokesperson for the Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) Education Coalition. She will also advocate for healthy living styles, after struggling with obesity and bulimia during her youth.

For lack of a better word, Davuluri seems perfect. More than just a Barbie doll, Davuluri is a role model. She is everything American society idolizes, so why was her victory met with such a myopic and racist response?

A wave of tweets about Davuluri’s “Arab heritage” took Twitter by storm. One user tweeted, “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.” Did we not all take geography in middle school? Indian and Arab heritage are not the same. Comments like these broadly stereotype entire ethnic groups.

Davuluri’s win was met with shock. Another user tweeted, “I swear I’m not racist, but this is America.” Oh, you’re not racist? America is a nation of immigrants. America is a cultural melting pot. America is a fascinating conglomeration of thoughts, ideas, religions and more, and therein lies its beauty. The individual who posted this tweet is correct about one thing: This is America. America stands for change and eagerly anticipates new developments. The crowning of America’s first Indian Miss America is a revolutionary change and a step in a new direction.

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda, our Miss America is one of you,” tweeted another user. Absolutely bursting with ignorance, this comment embodies many things wrong with our society. Misinformation has plagued us all, but hopefully not to this degree. As American citizens, it is our duty to be informed. Al-Qaeda is definitely not based in India.

This event not only highlights many misconceptions circulating throughout the country, but also the growing influence that social media wields. Years ago, this might not have been a situation at all as comments were kept private and ignorance more heavily under wraps.

Today, every single fleeting thought is chronicled through some social media outlet. I speak for the vast majority of social media subscribers when I say: We just don’t care. Keep the ignorance, misinformation and narrow-mindedness to a minimum.

Think before you tweet. “Will this tweet end up published in an article? Will this tweet make me look stupid? Do I even have the slightest idea what I’m talking about here?” Based on your answer to these questions, reconsider your course of action.

The racist responses surrounding this year’s Miss America pageant point out flaws in American society. However, perhaps this event was something we needed. Davuluri has demonstrated to the world what it means to be an American and what it means to be a role model. Through challenging stereotypes and misconceptions, our new Miss America is an example to us all.

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