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The dangers of hate propaganda

missamericacrownLast night, as I often do, I tweeted along with my friends as I watched the Miss America pageant.

I’ve always been a big fan of pageant culture — I was lucky enough to attend a few as media, and I’m really fascinated by the backstage antics and soap opera-esque drama.

Also, I really liked Miss Congeniality. Like a lot.

Watching the pageant, I was very taken by a few of the names and stories.

Most noticeably, was Miss Kansas. This amazing woman, win or lose, would go down in history as one of the most memorable contestants ever — she was a member of the military, studying to be a dentist, and yes, beautiful. She had tattoos, she studied archery. She wasn’t the typical identity of a pageant queen. She was a picture of self-sufficiency and non-conformity. Her win would break pageant stereotypes and show how strength and perseverance was the ideal of Miss America, just as much as having pretty hair and a great body.

And so, when two rounds before the end, Miss Kansas was eliminated, I tweeted. I tweeted that America wasn’t ready for someone like her – someone who represented the real face of America – a changing face, about independence, and perseverance, and being who you were whether people like it or not. I was speaking of archaic conservative ideals. I was speaking of them not being ready for someone as fresh and landscape-changing as she.

Twenty minutes later, Miss New York won. A beautiful woman, she’s also the first Indian-American ever to win the crown. And I’m incredibly happy for her – and for New York, for having a pageant win two years in a row.

What happened next is something that has me so incredibly saddened, I’m crying as I type this.

It’s funny how just a few days ago, I wrote a post about how I have a really hard time dealing with people not liking me. I had been talking about my personal life. Personal demons that have plagued me in the past few years and more recently.

I could have never have dreamed what would happen next.

Twitter, it seemed, took my comments completely out of context (and the timeline stamps as well) – and interpreted what had been posted significantly before the pageant end as a comment on the results. When I said the “face of Miss America” I was speaking in grander terms – not the face any particular candidate. I was speaking of the face of strong will and determination. People like Miss Florida, who performed the talent competition last night with two torn ligaments is another fine example. I admire this, and I identify with this – a year ago I very nearly died, and went on to meet a project deadline while still in ICU receiving blood transfusions. Seeing a project through to its completion is that important to me.

But twitter responded differently. They saw what I had said as a comment on the race of Miss New York. It had nothing to do with her race. Or anyone’s. Overnight, I got hundreds of hateful tweets from people I don’t know calling me names I’d never call my worst enemy. Today, I am in various newspapers – including on other continents — bunched among hateful racist comments by ignorant people. I am not a racist. I am not ignorant. However, I can not say the same for people sending me threatening and cruel tweets and Facebook messages for the last 24 hours. Calling someone a “stupid white c*nt” is racism. Saying someone represents the face of American ideals because she risks her life for her country and isn’t afraid to go against traditional stereotypes of pageant ideals is not.

I’m afraid, you guys. I was afraid walking home tonight from a business dinner, thinking that someone who read a cruel mis-truth about me would want to exact revenge for something I hadn’t even done. But I’m more afraid for the future of our universe. A future where people attack strangers and jump to conclusions about fellow humans based on mis-truths and misassumptions. I didn’t hurt anyone, I’d never hurt anyone — but I am very hurt by the current climate being engaged.

Life is short, everyone. I’ve lost several really dear friends in the last few months to forces much bigger than any of us. But we can choose to love, or we can choose to hate. We can choose to engage in ignorance and racism, or we can choose to open our hearts and minds to the people around us. I always try to lead with my heart and be the best person I can be to all the people in my realm. It takes just as many muscles to frown as to smile! I can only hope others will make that choice as well.

But until then, I just hope to be the best person I can be, and not let the negativity around us seep into my own heart. And I hope all of you can manage that as well. Be your best self – that’s the most any of us can ever hope for.

I love you all :)

EDIT: Just wanted to include the New York Observer story about this insanity — they were actually interested in MY side of the story!



19 Comments

  1. ellen beck
    09.16.2013

    Aly I read your tweets there was nothing racist about what you said. Dont take it personally and dont be afraid. *hugs*

  2. Tracy
    09.16.2013

    I had no idea this was happening. Sorry you received such unwarranted backlash. It will pass.

  3. julie l
    09.16.2013

    I’m so sorry ignorant people are sending you hateful tweets. It’s horrible that because of a misconception you got bunched in with aick, twisted individuals. Just know you have a lot of people supporting you. People who know your peraonality from your tweets and know you are not a hateful peraon at all. Don’t let those misinformed idiots get you down. You’re a steong woman who will get past this. On a sidenote: I would conract those papers and demand a retraction! Isn’t it libel to take your comments out of context like that and spin it so you seem racist?!

  4. Jeniese Hosey
    09.16.2013

    I really hate that this happen to you. People refuse to number one read for themselves and number too remember to be kind. I really wanted to reach out and hug you while I read this! You have done not one thing wrong! I hope that you get some peace in the midst of this storm!

  5. Patrice
    09.16.2013

    That’s terrible. As someone who only “knows” you via Twitter, racist is the last thing I would ever think to call you. I can’t imagine dealing with what you have the past day or so. Hopefully Miley Cyrus will not wear underwear or something in the next few hours just for you and this will all blow over….

  6. Lee
    09.17.2013

    I totally knew what you meant, it’s so upsetting when people take words out of context and when they realize it they can’t even back down. Sorry you are dealing with this. The best part is knowing they are ignorant, not you. Love you Aly.

    Lee

  7. Very well stated! I don’t think your comments were racist at all. Your post is from the heart and anyone reading it can see that! Xo, Betsy

  8. Brigitta
    09.17.2013

    I read somewhere something about our access to and dependance upon technology for communication growing exponentially faster than our emotional intelligence for communicating with said channels. It’s so easy to push a button and instantly flame someone when in the past, the time it would have taken us to write a letter or even full email would give enough space to really think about what we were doing.

    Everyone who knows you and works with you knows this is all an out-of-context fabrication by ignoramuses. I’m sure this will blow over really soon when all those self-righteous, ill-informed blowhards find something else to feel indignant about.

  9. Jay
    09.17.2013

    Hi Aly, don’t know you but wondered how Miss New York is also not “the typical identity of a pageant queen; a picture of self-sufficiency and non-conformity. Her win would break pageant stereotypes and show how strength and perseverance was the ideal of Miss America, just as much as having pretty hair and a great body.”

    She’s National Guard, University of Michigan graduate (brain studies at that!), daughter of immigrants, planning on being a physician…..smells a lot self-suffient, non-conformist, strength, intelligence, perserverance and totally NOT the typical identity of a pageant queen. So, after reading your blog I was wondering how Miss Kansas is MORE so those things you listed than Miss New York? (no malice, i’m a sweety myself and i’m not here to bash you or attack you AT ALL, i’m asking just for the sake of debate)

  10. Jay
    09.17.2013

    Ahhh, I get it now, disregard. You were solely speaking when Miss Kansas lost, not related to the crowning in any way.

  11. Rachel Ferrucci
    09.17.2013

    As usual people see what they want and don’t check any facts. These are the ignorant idiots who flood our society. I know you well and know you wouldn’t hurt a fly let alone another human.

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this but know that there are LOTS of us who love you to death for who you are!!

  12. Naomi
    09.17.2013

    I’ve never heard of you until I saw a link to this article on Facebook, but I read through your post and I felt led to write a comment to encourage you. There is a RIDICULOUS amount of hate spread around the internet because people feel safe hiding behind their online persona and feel somewhat anonymous. It
    makes bullying easier, unfortunately. We call these people “trolls”, and no mind should be paid to them :)

    I’m glad you have an outlet to explain yourself, and you did it very eloquently.

    Keep your head up, and keep working on your projects. You’ve got a new follower and supporter in me!

  13. Lee Reyes-Fournier
    09.17.2013

    I agree with you- Miss Kansas was amazing. The ugliness after Miss New York won was reprehensible and I am so sorry you were caught in the feeding frenzy. How you ended up there is quite a different story. I have read your tweets over and over and for the life of me can’t figure out why anyone would attack you. I guess this is a lesson you must learn. You are an amazing woman- the changing face of America. That comes with the added bonus of some people not understanding you. I get you.

  14. Nancy Reid
    09.17.2013

    My best regards to you Aly. Over the years I have followed you here, on twitter and facebook I have always know you to be totally gracious of all people. What a shame that your tweet was taken so out of context. My best to you. Keep your chin up. Everyone who knows you personally or digitally knows that you are a fair and gracious person.

  15. Raine
    09.17.2013

    This is so infuriating! Some people are…I don’t even have words. Just from knowing about you and the kind of person you are-I know you meant nothing hateful by anything-I agree 100% with your tweets! I also know you will keep your head up, thank you for posting about this, I saw a few tweets but I didn’t realize the extent that the ignorance had spread!

  16. MomsThoughts
    09.17.2013

    People who would read racism into your tweets are the ones seeing their own prejudices reflects in your words. I see nothing but love and support. I am not a fan of parading women on display to be judged and scrutinized the way they are (even if it is for scholarship money!) I don’t think it advances feminism at all. That said, I read nothing but fierce support for strong, independent women in your words. People tend to see what they want to see. Twitter is still a bit of the wild west and words have to be chosen carefully. A thick skin also helps. It is the rare person who hasn’t been the recipient of anonymous rage and hate on Twitter.

  17. tfl
    09.17.2013

    I had the pleasure of spending some time with Aly as she is a kind hearted person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She will get through this stronger people need to find out the facts first before judging someone.

  18. Tasha
    09.17.2013

    People will always be haters! There was nothing racist about your tweet whatsoever! Aly, I hope you sue the pants off of the New York Post for publishing your tweet and accusing you of something you clearly aren’t. It’s called “slander”.

    slan┬Ěder (slndr)
    n.
    1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
    2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

    Slander ruins reputations. Shame on the New York Post!

    Never stop being you. Stay strong Aly!

  19. Tara
    10.15.2013

    Its ok to have opionions during contests not everyone is a sandra bullock type not every one is a barbie world peace gal . If we all lose our opinions we lose the charecter of who we are if there is no hating why do people try to fight? watching pagents wondering what contestant will win is the fun of the pagents . Love to all!

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