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Nina Davuluri's Platform is Her Best Defense

posted Jan 14, 2014, 3:58 PM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Jan 14, 2014, 3:59 PM ]
Image courtesy International Business Times

Nina Davuluri's recent achievement of becoming the first person of Indian descent to be crowned Miss America doesn't have any obvious connection to the ideas behind "Minority Tech". However, she is a doctoral student with an undergraduate degree in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science so her STEM bona fides are obvious.

The racist comments left on social media after she was crowned certainly do fit within the issues that "Minority Tech" tries to address. The comments ranged from inaccurate comments about Davuluri being a foreigner (she was, in fact, born in America) to links between her and terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda (despite the fact that the organization has little presence in India). Apparently, many people felt that a woman of color was almost a de facto illegitimate winner of the Miss America pageant. The accusations are eerily similar to those lodged against President Obama claiming that he was born outside of the United States, and, therefore, ineligible to be President. It is also similar to the view that people of the dominant culture in technology have of women and minorities. That is the view that women and minorities don't belong in the technology sector and only get there through illegitimate methods.

Davuluri's ran on a platform called "Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency", and I hope that she uses her reign to advance that platform. Diversity can be a negative term for many people because they link it to affirmative action and the incorrect assumption that it gives preferential treatment to incompetent minorities. I'd extend the platform to "Advancing Diversity Through Personal Excellence" because that is the key to proving the effectiveness of diversity. When Blacks, Latinos, Asians and other cultural groups as well as women demonstrate personal excellence, the case for diversity becomes obvious. Or, to put it another way, the best revenge is overwhelming success.