“I don’t make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything. I’m an utter egotist.”

Howard Roark from The Fountainhead

For many years, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead has been a silent, yet palpable force emanating from my bookshelves. I’ve always wanted to read Ayn Rand for the same reason I wanted to read Moby Dick, and for the same reason I want to read Gone With The Wind and Infinite Jest. The Fountainhead was one of many white whales that I knew I had to conquer due to equal parts curiosity and necessity. Any epic American novel that important and that influential is unquestionably meant to be discovered and experienced, but the difficulty and sheer size both posed intimidating obstacles and for a long time, I opted to succumb to the distractions of newer, shorter, and more attractive books.

I don’t know what compulsion coerced me to finally pick it up and start reading it last week; I specifically remember my elated Reader’s High after finishing Meg Wolitzer’s excellent book The Interestings and being inspired to read another long, worthy book. And perhaps I was mindful of my New Year’s Resolution to read more Classics this year. Whatever the reason, whatever the impulse, I’m so glad I decided to read it.

Howard Roark, Architect – the protagonist, the hero – is an Outlier in the truest sense of the word. Talented, but misunderstood. Honest, but disliked. Smart, but unpopular. Respected, but feared. Unconventionally handsome. Notoriously different. Roark reminds me of Atticus Finch and Hester Prynne – strong, able characters who are easy to hate for all of the qualities that should make them likable. Isolated people who stick with their convictions in spite of popular opinion; people who are maddeningly unscathed by their damaged reputations; and people who are so purely good, independent and esteemed that the level of compassion they incite from the reader is borderline unbearable because of the impossibly unfair situations they wind up in.

Presumably, a 700-some odd page novel about architecture in the early 1900’s would be slow, dull and difficult to read. To my pleasant surprise, I found quite the opposite to be true. The book was well-paced, beautifully written and very digestible in spite of its length. The narrative spanned several decades, following Roark from the tail-end of his college career as a wide-eyed, idealistic student well into adulthood as a struggling professional. All of Rand’s characters from love interests to brutal enemies were well developed, brilliantly intertwined and polarizing. There was no neutral ground; there was no indifference. Readers inevitably chose sides and either loved or hated every character, interaction or plot point throughout the entire narrative.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help comparing The Fountainhead to one of my favorite long reads of all time – Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Though drastically different, taking place centuries apart, I couldn’t stop myself from drawing parallels between the two novels. After all, both Jack from Pillars and Roark from The Fountainhead are two unquestionably brilliant architects who undergo extenuating circumstances with unadulterated vision and ambition and have their sights set on the most coveted women in their respective societies. They both pour their lives into their craft and they both exhibit debilitating patience in light of the ugliest, most conniving and calculating of adversaries. Both novels were epic. Both spanned a few decades, and not to mention – both Roark and Jack have unforgivably red hair!

It’s not often that a subject as random as architecture can captivate a reader, but architecture is one of my favorite subjects because I love the idea of it, and Rand and Follett describe and humanize it in a gorgeous way. Architecture is the truest form of functional art; the result of left and right-brained genius; the combination of physics and poetry. The accuracy and necessity of pairing balance and engineering with finesse and creativity is just a beautiful concept to me. I only know one actual real-life architect and he might be the brightest mind I have the pleasure of knowing, but like Roark and like Jack, my friend The Architect is so independent and intelligent that he floats on a lonely wavelength that transcends everyone else in a weirdly tragic way.

I suppose I loved The Fountainhead so much because I relate to Roark and his plights on a deeply personal level. His impossiblely unattainable expectations, his standards of beauty, his inability to compromise, and his unwillingness to settle for anything less than perfection when it comes to anything from his sketches, his buildings or his relationships – I aspire to be like him. I could only wish my life and values were that definitive and pure, even though I know they’re not. Perhaps I can only compare the other worldly, transcendental experience and joy I feel when reading incredible books to how Dominique Francon feels when she looks at beautiful buildings.

Reading this novel made me feel depressed, lonely and quite despairing at times. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions – the love story in the Fountainhead was among the greatest, most passionate and heartbreaking I’ve ever read. Tumultuous, tempestuous – seemingly hopeless. Among the ranks of Jay Gatsby and Daisy. Jack and Aliena. Ygritte and Jon Snow. Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

However, this despair only made the contrasting uplift and inspirational components that much more powerful. I will always remember the catharsis and bright joy I felt at the climax of the tale – that magical pinnacle hidden in that massive brick of pages. I’ll never forget how unbelievably full and ebullient my heart was when I finished the last page of The Fountainhead, knowing that the world was a better place and though grossly unfair at times, life can be pretty damn beautiful.


So this brilliant little infographic has been circulating on the Interwebs and Austin social networks over the past few days in humorous response to the influx of people flocking to the city and boosting our ever growing population count and property values – UT graduates who squat; Silicon Valley techies who seek sunshine and cheaper rent; actors or models who can’t make it in LA; and your general free-spirited folks from colder, less exciting parts of the country who either caught the Austin bug on their first visit or through word-of-mouth, and then impulsively decided to pack up their cars and head South.

I try not to be a hater. It does unnerve me every time Austin makes another Top 10 List for Best Places for Young People or Top Tech Cities in the U.S. because I know the long-term consequences of our ever-increasing population – higher rent prices, insufferable traffic, skyscraper construction – but I too am an implant who sought employment and permanent residency in Austin because the evidence is undeniable – Austin is a great place for young people and creatives and music lovers and foodies and hipsters and vegans and runners and hikers and bikers and geeks and gays and pet owners; it’s warm, welcoming and non-representative of the rest of the state of Texas. We can’t blame people for wanting to relocate and plant roots in Austin any more than we can blame engineers and developers who want to move to San Francisco; bearded hipsters who want to move to Portland or cocaine-snorting finance folks who want to move to New York. (that last generalization may or may not have been influenced by recently watching The Wolf of Wall Street)

However, I think there are a few other things that this illustrator left off that would even further deter a prospective resident from moving here so I thought I’d list a few extra contributions:

  • Heinous allergies: This time of year is absolutely miserable for a huge chunk of Austin residents and the dry weather in the winter months makes it worse and worse each year. The cedar pollen count levels are astronomically high and every morning I suffer from a terrible mix of symptoms that are impossible to abate. In fact, the clouds of pollen coming off the trees were so enormous that some residents thought there was a forest fire.
  • Mopacalypse – the traffic on I-35 is included in the infographic, but I think the traffic on MoPac is worth mentioning. MoPac is the only other major freeway in the city, and traffic will get exponentially worse as construction workers plan to expand the freeway and transform it into a toll road. I believe a recent article stated that an Austinite with a 30-minute commute will spend an average of 83 hours a year in traffic, a soul-crushing, life-sucking data point and a truth that I’m realizing very slowly and painfully.
  • Homeless people – Sure, there are homeless people everywhere; in a lot of sexy cities too – NY, Chicago, San Francisco – but many hobos migrate here during the winter months because of the warm weather. They are getting harder and harder to avoid.
  • Franklin Barbecue – People wait in line 3 hours for barbecue, and don’t get me wrong it tastes fantastic and is probably the best barbecue in Austin. But three hours? THREE?  Waiting that long for anything is so excessive and unnecessary and unappealing and I would never recommend that anyone go there unless they had a week day off and got there right when the restaurant opens. I’ve only ever tasted Franklin once in my life at a private rehearsal dinner that rented out the space, and I don’t ever plan on going back. (Which is a shame because it’s delicious)
  • You’re still in Texas – Austin is the diamond in the rough and unrepresentative of the rest of the state. It is liberal and vibrant and there are always protests campaigning for Pro-Choice legislation and gay marriage and all sorts of politics that I support. BUT we are still in Texas. There are still TONS of rednecks, racists, Bible-thumpers, drunk Dodge Ram drivers and idiots in office (ahem Rick Perry and ahem Ted Cruz) that live in Texas. There is a smaller percentage of these folks in Austin per capita, but Texas is a proud state that tried to secede from the Union at one point – so there it isn’t completely fair to compare Austin to places that legalize gay marriage or marijuana or abortions. Plus other than lakes and hill country, Texas is flat, dry and ugly in a lot of places, and it takes about 13 hours to drive across from point to point. If I ever left Austin, I’d probably have to leave Texas. Though I’ve lived here my entire life and love being from Texas – the more populous cities like Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio have their own charm and personality, but are ultimately utterly uninhabitable.

I hope that dissuades any of you outsiders from entering our city limits. And I really do need to reiterate – it does get really fucking hot here.

20131112-101334.jpgI’d challenge anyone vaguely familiar with the concept of “fun” to find a more appropriately named event than Fun Fun Fun Fest. This was my third consecutive year attending and every year it continues outgrowing the societal norms of your stereotypical music festival. Akin to all music festivals, Fun Fun Fun Fest hosts multiple stages, food vendors and an impressive lineup of diverse artists – for example, Cut Copy (Australia), MIA (Sri Lanka), Snoop Dogg (Compton) and MGMT (Connecticut?) were among this year’s headliners. But what you won’t ever see at your ACLs or Coachellas are things like an entire stage dedicated to established comedians like Sarah Silverman and Doug Benson, a huge half pipe where skateboarders and BMXers of all ages and skill levels come to play, a photo booth in a porta potty and a hydraulic cannon that shoots out tacos and tamales at crowds of hungry, excitable festers. After a few years of following the music festival circuit, I’ve found Fun Fun Fun the most refreshing. It’s still relatively young and small compared to its elders, but it always improves and grows without losing its youthful spirit. For instance, you won’t see many kids or parents who go merely for the sake of going. No one brings blankets. No one brings lawn chairs. People just come to party. People just come to Fest.

This year was particularly special to me because some of my best friends from Wisconsin came down for the weekend in hopes of seeing some great music and escaping the miserable snow that accompanies their sad existence during those unforgiving Midwest winters. They were greeted by sunshine, live music juxtaposed against a gorgeous backdrop of the Austin skyline and lots and lots  and lots of booze. Some highlights from this year’s festival include: A mechanical bull, a free after show with Twin Shadow, kimchi french fries from my favorite Korean food truck and exclusive access to a VIP tent sponsored by Jameson and Absolut. Here were some of my favorite snaps from the weekend:
20131112-101218.jpg 20131112-101318.jpg

20131112-101241.jpg 20131112-101304.jpg




Halloween in Austin is one of the best times of the year – whether you’re the extroverted Life of the Party or the Observant Wallflower – Halloween in Austin is equal parts partying (i.e. a heightened probability of alcoholically influenced poor decision-making) and amusing people-watching (oftentimes, people-judging). On a typical week day in Austin, it is not at all uncommon to see sleeves full of tattoos or florescent hair pigments that cannot be found in nature – so imagine the opportunity Halloween presents for this pool of already weird, colorful and creative residents.

I enjoy dressing up and experimenting with makeup, hairstyles and accessories that fall outside the parameters of my everyday wardrobe, but every year, I personally face a series of internal struggles with Halloween. For instance, I’m pretty lazy and cheap when it comes to costume assembly – I don’t like the idea of spending exorbitant amounts of money on elaborate wigs or craft materials intended for one-time use nor do I want to spend a few hours painting scales on my face or creating a structural masterpiece out of cardboard and zip ties. However in spite of this seemingly apathetic view on costume creation, I’m actually pretty picky about ideas. I just hate generic, store-bought ideas that don’t require an ounce of thought, originality or taste, and I hate going downtown and seeing a sea of uninspired pirates, sailors, bumblebees and cats.
I know I sound pretty judgmental right now, but it’s just a matter of personal preference. On the one day a year that I can literally wear anything and embody anyone, I don’t want to grab a pair of ears and a tail and call it a day. I don’t want to buy one of those gross, ill-fitting, polyester monstrosities that they sell in creepy zip-lock bags. By no means am I insinuating that others are wrong for going to Party City and buying the first thing that fits and mildly strikes their fancy, but I always try to avoid  defaulting on the road most taken.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a variety of opinions and perspectives about dressing up for Halloween. I thought I’d share two that particularly entertained me and made pretty compelling arguments. The first comes from the male perspective on why you (a dude) should not pick up the girl in the slutty Halloween costume. echoes a few of my aforementioned opinions about how people who choose these generic costumes lack taste and imagination, but the author also points out that these revealing ensembles leave little to the imagination. What’s the fun in undressing a girl who’s barely wearing anything anyway? But I think the most interesting argument this guy makes is that these slutty costumes are oftentimes misleading. Since dressing overly sexy on Halloween is considered female normalcy nowadays – shy girls, uptight girls, prude girls and just plain not-slutty girls kind of appear… slutty. On Halloween, these chicks may seem like choice options for a drunken makeout or a one-night stand, but in reality, they’re probably not.
Ironically, the second article comes from the female perspective in defense of the slutty costume. Sure, it’s more of a memoir, but the intelligent, fashionable and funny founder of recounts her 17-year-old experience of making the out-of-character, peer-influenced decision to don a sexy flight attendant costume for a house party where she ended up attracting the attention of an older college-aged male who she eventually started dating and ultimately marrying down the road. I suppose her article is less about dressing provocatively to meet members of the opposite sex, and more about being comfortable in your own skin, having fun and owning whatever character you decide to embody on Halloween. But this author also demonstrates that not every girl in a leather catsuit is an easy, idiotic bimbo. In fact, she could very well be a smart, funny individual with substance who simply didn’t have anything to wear.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been dressing up and celebrating Halloween for more than two decades now. And in my adult life I’ve dabbled with temporary tattoos, clip-on hair extensions and dangerously short hemlines that severely restricted the ability to bend over. However, more recently I’ve also found dressing up as dudes remarkably fun and liberating. I’ve gone as Bret Michaels, Tim Lincecum and my former boss over the past few years – and I don’t know what it is about wearing facial hair or perhaps, simply comfier clothes that makes Halloween the ridiculous, lighthearted and goofy occasion that I think it should be.
I guess I don’t care if you choose to take the sexy route or the humorous one, as long as there’s some thought or meaning behind whatever you choose. Like most women, I think dressing up and looking good is fun and empowering – there are plenty of costumes that show skin that look great – perhaps because they befit the character being portrayed or showed originality. I will always be impressed by the babelicious Chun-Lis, Princess Leias and Lady Gagas I see, but I will always roll my eyes at every sexy police woman, sexy nurse or sexy race car driver. In fact, some options are downright inexplicable like the sexy hamburger or the sexy Bert and Ernie. Our favorite Italian plumbers are supposed to be plump, mustachioed and hairy – so why sexualize our favorite SNES icons? I think it’s fine if you’re a Gryffindor, but since when did Hermione expose her cleavage and belly button?
Once again, I digress. After all, Halloween is tomorrow and it’s not like there’s much time for you to throw something together anyway. I just hope I see all of you Austinites in your Thursday best ready to party tomorrow night. We live in an awesome place and we should keep Austin spunky and weird on one of the funnest days of the year.
So I came across this in Thought Catalog and Cupcakes and Cashmere – two blogs I regularly follow that share next to nothing in common. I don’t necessarily agree with this list, but still thought it’d be a good exercise to attempt to answer these criteria to womanhood. So here goes:
1. A go-to drink: This particular criterion must signify maturity because five years ago, though I was of legal drinking age, I didn’t have a go-to drink and it was kind of embarrassing. Seriously, think back to the first time you legally went to a bar and had to decide what you wanted with a line of loud co-eds behind you and an impatient bartender fighting with every fiber of his being not to roll his eyes into the back of his head. Or when a waitress approaches you a mere minute after you’re seated and immediately demands a drink of you. Having the freedom to decide on what you want to drink is so liberating, yet foreign when you start legally drinking – no longer are you limited to whatever you’ve been able to get your hands on and happened to tolerate; you can literally choose from an unlimited selection of bottles and taps and drink anything. Whatever ends up being your go-to drink could define you for the rest of your days – especially if you become an alcoholic.
Determining your go-to drink is a rite of passage and it takes a period of trial and error to settle on something you like and are proud of liking. I definitely judge people on what their go-to drinks are – for instance, if tequila is your poison of choice – I might tag you as a party animal who’s keen on sugary margaritas and taking body shots like Vanessa Hudgens in Spring Breakers. If you drink rum and you’re not a pirate – what the fuck is wrong with you? I’m pleased to say after a few years of testing the waters, I have definitive answers for my go-to drink in almost all main categories of alcohol:
  • Spirits: Whiskey – preferably mixed with 7-Up, ginger ale, water or occasionally, on the rocks. Vodka is the widely assumed go-to liquor choice because it’s clear and tasteless and therefore, mixes with virtually anything. But for starters, I don’t necessarily want my alcohol to taste like nothing. I think that makes it obsolete, frivolous almost. Even if I mix or dilute it, I still want my liquor to have some character. Secondly, vodka is cliche – almost every chick I know says vodka Sprite, vodka soda with lime or vodka tonic with lime is their go-to drink, and I can’t think of a more boring way to get wasted than essentially paying $6 for a loaded Topochico with a squeeze of citrus in it. Finally, whiskey mixes well with an abundance of substances – when you get creative, you’d be surprised by how many delicious concoctions you can come up with. For instance, whiskey coffee is delicious. Whiskey with iced tea is delicious; whiskey with lemonade is delicious and whiskey with tea AND lemonade is even more delicious. For you seasonal folks, whiskey-spiked apple cider and egg nog are some of the best ways to endure obnoxious family members and stay contently, yet discreetly buzzed during the holidays. Whiskey my friends, is the way to go.
  • Beer (Good): I’m fortunate that Austin is brimming with local breweries, but it took me a while to nail down a signature beer, or at least a signature type of beer. It’s not uncommon for bars to feature 20, 50, 100+ drafts making the selection process a little overwhelming, but I usually fall back on Live Oak Hefeweizen – a light, medium-bodied brew that’s creamy enough to be smooth, but fruity and carbonated enough to be tart and refreshing.  
  • Beer (Trashy): When I’m feeling the urge to drink like a plebeian, I usually defer to something of the commercialized domestic variety that comes in cases of 24 or the 16-oz. Tall Boy form factor – ideal for bringing to the pool or for spilling on things. In college, I was a dedicated Coors Light drinker – I just thought those temperature-sensitive blue Rocky Mountains were so delightfully clever! Oddly enough, I usually prefer Bud Light and Miller Lite now – not sure why. For some reason, none of my friends seem to like the Silver Bullet much. I’m also a fan of Lone Star, the National Beer of Texas, which often is available at the $1 – $2 price point at several establishments.  
  • Wine: This is the only alcoholic substance I wish I was more knowledgeable about – I don’t want to be some snobby sommelier, but I do wish I wasn’t so clueless about wine. I do know I prefer red, I drink a glass or two almost every weeknight and usually buy reasonably priced bottles of Cab or Shiraz at the grocery store. I admittedly still have a lot to learn, and taste for wine is the biggest opportunity for growth for my alcoholic palate. I’m assuming it’s something to be accumulated as I grow older – after all, adults drink wine and one day I’ll be rich and classy enough to sniff and swirl and make sound choices.
 2. A go-to karaoke song: I don’t karaoke as much as I used to, but when I do, I like to display my expertise without being boring or serious. However, I hate when people sing Top 40 pop songs or “Don’t Stop Believing,” so it took a while to pinpoint the right song. A few years ago, I tried out Kylie Minogue’s upbeat rendition of “The Locomotion” and it was very well-received. It’s catchy, fun, easy-to-learn and lends itself to simple dance moves like swinging your hips and making human trains.
3. A uniform: This is tough because I like a lot of different clothes – but lately, I’ve been wearing casual button downs and skinny jeans the most regularly. I do like the occasional dress or skirt, but the former option doesn’t require me to shave my legs or wear specific undergarments. I usually wear my hair down in whatever unkempt tangle it molds itself into after a night of fitful sleep and my only makeup must-have is black eyeliner, which has rimmed my eyes virtually every day since I was 15.
4. A hairstylist they love: This is something I do not have – there is no singular individual that I return to for my haircuts, but I’m fortunate enough to have have pretty manageable, hard-to-fuck-up hair. I do return to the same establishment the 2 or 3 times a year I remember to cut it, but I have a different stylist every time. I certainly like talking to some more than others, but the end product is never reason enough to remember the stylist’s name and schedule an appointment 6 months later.
5. An exercise routine: For the past few years, I would just regularly go to the gym. I don’t particularly like it, but I also don’t mind it. Plus, I’d prefer using simple strength training and cardio machines to paying for and scheduling my day around a yoga or kickboxing class. A few months ago, I surprisingly developed an inclination for running and even entertained the idea of training for a half marathon, but I have trouble finding the time to run outside because it’s kind of dependent on the weather and time of day. Treadmills suffice, but running in place while watching the minutes and miles slowly tick by is equal parts boring and soul-crushing so I never do more than 3-4 miles on the treadmill. Very recently, I joined a competitive indoor volleyball league – a sport I’ve loved playing since junior high – not only do I get regular, non-boring exercise through this, but I’ve also met a lot of great people. Gives me something to look forward to every week.
6. A hobby: Okay – I hate hobbies. I think the idea of them is stupid and I’d argue that virtually no one really has a hobby. Sure, I like shopping, reading and listening to music, but so does a significant portion of the population. In fact, almost everyone I know likes those things. There’s really nothing unique or characteristic about those things. Unless your favorite pastime is something super rare like collecting model cars, knitting blankets, bird watching or brewing your own beer – I don’t think you really have a hobby. Think of the weird shit they sell at Hobby Lobby – it’s all crocheting, scrapbooking, quilting or toy airplane painting-related stuff. I don’t know anyone who does any of that shit in real life. I hate when people ask what my hobbies are because I feel stupid and unoriginal when I honestly admit that I don’t have any. Fuck hobbies.
7. A best friend: I actually have a few of these; if you held a gun to my head and attached me to a polygraph machine and asked me who my best friend was, I really wouldn’t know how to answer truthfully to save my life (or the life of said best friend). I also think the concept of having a best friend is kind of exclusionary by design, which isn’t very kind considering your second best friend and third best friend are probably pretty decent people too. I have one that I talk to every day and consider my closest friend, but we’ve never even lived in the same city. I have one that I’ve known since childhood and lived with in college. I can show up at her parents’ doorstep any day of the week and we’ll be in eachothers’ weddings no question – however, we have next to nothing in common and our taste in everything from shoes to men is completely different. My roommate might be the most plausible answer to this question because I spend the most time with him, we do have a lot in common and ultimately, we just get along really well. Though he’s my best companion for all of those reasons, we don’t confide secrets or personal info very often. Not that the other isn’t trustworthy or reliable; we just don’t do it much. Weird, huh?
8. A healthy sense of self – Not sure what this means, so probably don’t have it.


Why don’t you kick yourself out? You’re an immigrant too!
– The White Stripes, Icky Thump
Working in the technology and media industries has been equally rewarding and eye-opening for me. I was born into an analog world of land line telephones, cassette tapes and pencils, but I was fortunate enough to grow up in a flourishing society blooming with smart technology – brilliant connected devices and fast, comprehensive communications systems. The most valuable byproduct of these technological advances is undeniably the exorbitant access to information – whether it’s news, e-commerce, entertainment or trivia – living in a connected world has lent itself to a generation of smarter consumers and knowledgeable civilians.
In fact, Mark Zuckerberg (who recently doubled his net worth to a some-odd $19 billion figure) argues that connectivity is a basic human right and has partnered with several other outstanding companies to connect the rest of the world and create a thriving, international knowledge economy.
All things considered, I’m privileged to live in a country where I have unlimited access to information, and I’m glad I have venues that allow me to explore virtually any idea, curiosity or area of interest quickly and cheaply. I’m glad I can absorb this information on multiple screens and quickly share it over multiple channels, and I’m glad physical distance has become merely an abstraction that separates me from some of my closest friends and family members.
Unfortunately, the downside of living in this connected world is quickly realizing how far we haven’t come as a society. What prompted this reflection is the Internet’s unseemly response to our newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri. Rather than celebrating our nation’s diversity and the fact that beauty, talent and poise can come in many shapes, sizes and yes, colors – Davuluri’s race has drawn an overwhelming amount of negative attention from the nation’s ignorant and uneducated. Everything from simple-minded misconceptions of what America is (or looks like) to associations with terrorist activity have been openly stated by American citizens to the general public, and though the worst offenders are receiving an overwhelmingly healthy dose of cyberbullying and public shaming from the Twitterverse – I can’t help but feel sorry for them.
I’m not excusing what these users said or did, I’m just disappointed, saddened and alarmed that these grown people didn’t know better. It’s clear that these comments have generated outrage and disgust among the vast majority of the population who does support the new Miss America, but I think it’s far more disturbing that these folks didn’t seem to know the difference between an Indian-American, an Arab and an Egyptian. It’s unsettling that they question Davuluri’s validity as an American even though she was born in Syracuse, New York. This little peanut gallery had no qualms with her beauty, grace, intelligence or talent, which are commonly known pillars that this pageant has judged its contestants on for more than 90 years. They just simply didn’t think she was deserving of the title Miss America – even though she is a Miss, and very much an American.
I truly don’t think the issue at hand is malice or hate speech, I really don’t. I think the root of the problem is that the definition of what an American is is still very unclear to Americans. Perhaps, my own descent as an American of Asian descent propelled me to write this. I know a lot of the people who make these racial comments aren’t necessarily hateful or even bad-intentioned. Look at the reaction to Jeremy Lin – he was one of the most likable public figures of 2012, but a news source as reliable and widely read and watched as ESPN still made an error so severe that they fired the brilliant wordsmith who thought “Chink in the Armor” was a clever sports headline.
It’s just a shame that in my lifetime, many will look upon me and automatically associate me with my descent even though English is my first language, I’ve never stepped foot in East Asia and I was born, raised and educated in Texas (which is in America). My parents just happened to be born overseas and because of that I look a certain way and therefore, will remain the subject of many racial misconceptions for the rest of my life. I think it’s worth pointing out that I’ve never felt overtly discriminated against because of my race – I can’t think of any significant instances of despicable words or behaviors that have been directed at me because I’m Asian-American. But I can say that if I won Miss America, I’d receive similar misguided social media backlash about not being an American.
I don’t hate the poor misguided souls who said those awful things about Nina Davuluri even though they would probably say similar things about me or any other Asian-American woman who won Miss America. They not only made careless, racist remarks, but it’s becoming overwhelmingly evident that they’re also severely ignorant, stupid people. And I think as Americans, who are blessed to live in a country that celebrates diversity and culture, and as Americans, who are blessed with a proliferation of connectivity, information and knowledge, there’s no reason to be that stupid, misguided and out of touch with reality anymore.