When I was younger, I never cared about what other people looked like,
About the color of their skin.
None of that ever mattered to me.
My parents taught me to look deep down inside of a person;
To peel back that outer mask that conformed to fit society's narrow-minded rules
And to learn about the unique soul who hid underneath.
And then I finally started realizing how cold the world can really be.
For the first time in my life, I hated the dark complexion of my skin.
For the first time in my life, I resented myself for the exotic curves of my body.
For the first time in my life, I was determined to hide the thousand-year-old heritage I was born with.
For the first time in my life, I wished that I was white;
That I was a white, Christian, Southern-born little girl like my classmates.
And I hid.
I hid the green, white, and saffron Sanskrit inscriptions that detailed my skin and soul.
I wanted to shove it down as far as possible so that I could seem "normal."
And as I slowly got older, hiding became unfortunately easier.
And then, I saw you, Nina:
You with your proud, Indian swagger and a beaming star-lit smile
As you stood up on that stage and became THE woman of this country.
You probably knew what was to come,
The poison darts people would throw at you,
Trying to pull you off your rightfully-earned thone.
But you didn't even blink.
You flicked them away like they were nothing;
Absorbed them into your armor so that you were strong and tough and proud.
And you know what?
You made me proud.
I was proud to be able to say that an Indian had won Miss America
And that she and I shared blood,
Proud, hot, saffron Indian blood that burned as it ran through our veins.
You made me feel comfortable in my own skin again.
I felt like nothing could touch me.
I ripped off my pale mask
And showed the world how proud I was of who I was born to be.
Nina, you let me see the light again.
You let young girls,
Girls in minorities,
See that being different is okay.
Being different should be celebrated everywhere all the time
Because without the differences in the world,
Humanity would have nothing, no excitement, no spark.
So thank you, Nina.
Thank you for breaking those narrow-minded rules and setting in open horizons
Where being different is a blessing, not a curse.
I know that there are still those who through those poison darts,
Not just at you and me,
But at anyone they find intolerably different.
There are still little angels left to be saved and shown to the light.
There are still children who put on masks and hide the bright souls they've been blessed with
Because they believe that they are nothing but curses.
But now we can keep looking forward.
We can show the world that the ancient designs inscribed onto every person,
Telling of their heritage, their passion, their love,
Everyone's colors and light,
They're perfect imperfections,
Everyone's everything is beautiful in it's own unique way.
We can't save everybody.
There will be fallen angels with nothing left,
Mere shells of the gift they once were.
We will have to accept and honor the ones we were too late to revive,
To bring life to again.
But at least you saved one.