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Miss America speaks out

Miss America winner Nina DavuluriNEW YORK – Ready or not America, Nina Davuluri is the new girl next door.

That’s how the 24-year-old Indian-American woman sees herself, she explained to CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday, three days after being crowned Miss America.

“I have always viewed Miss America as the girl next door,” Davuluri said. “But the girl next door is evolving, as the diversity of America evolves. She’s not who she was 10 years ago, and she’s not going to be the same person come 10 years down the road.”

The fact that her win Sunday spurred a torrent of racist reactions online – many along the lines that she doesn’t represent what the United States is – didn’t surprise Davuluri. She’d experienced it on a smaller scale when she became the first Miss New York of Indian descent.

Davuluri sees it as her mission to tackle such stereotypes head on. It’s why the daughter of two Indian-born parents has a pageant platform of “celebrating diversity through cultural competence.”

“I wanted to be the first Indian Miss America, to be that symbol of a new face for the organization,” she said Wednesday. “And to let younger girls know that regardless of race, their socioeconomic status, their religion that anyone can become not only Miss America, but anything.”

Still, it would be understandable if Davuluri was taken aback by tweets claiming she wasn’t sufficiently American or was a terrorist. Yet she’s been more heartened by all those that rallied around her.

“For one negative tweet, I received dozens of positive tweets and support from not only Indians, but the American people across the country and … the world for that matter,” the Fayetteville, New York, native said. “It’s been such an honor.” (CNN)

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