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Nina Davuluri wins Miss America, then faces critics, in Bollywood style (+video)

Nina Davuluri win is a tribute to her joyful performance and marks the growing visibility and cultural influence of Indian-Americans. Of criticism that she is, somehow, not American, she says: 'I have to rise above that.'

Miss America racist backlash
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Showing off her Bollywood talents in a jewel-bespeckled crimson and turquoise lehenga choli outfit, and dancing barefoot with a set of ghungroo anklet bells, Nina Davuluri became the first woman of Indian descent to wear the Miss America crown.

It was the kind of performance the talent competition at the 94-year-old pageant has rarely seen, and it brought the New York-born contestant a standing ovation. But almost immediately after last year’s winner Mallory Hagen put the Miss America crown on Ms. Davuluri’s head, attention turned toward her ethnic heritage.

Thousands of comments began zapping through the Twitterverse, many of which disparaged Davuluri as an Arab or a Muslim – or as somehow not American.

"I have to rise above that," said Davuluri of the online comments during her post-pageant press conference. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American." The newly crowned Miss America was born in Syracuse, N.Y., and she became an honors student at the University of Michigan, where she earned a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science.

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