Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

All non-black non-whites are “brown”?

Posted by chinesecanuck on August 20, 2008

Racialicious has GOT to be the first blog where all non-whites who aren’t black are referred to as “brown” (at least by some posters.  I can’t for the life of me see how anyone who is say, Chinese or Japanese can possibly be brown, unless one is referring to eye colour (or hair highlights) or to someone who has spent too much time in the tanning salon.  Tan or taupe I can understand, but brown, proper?  I don’t think so.  Unless, of course, you’re into the whole colour group thing.  However, most people think of brown as being something much darker than tan or taupe.  Calling these people brown is beyond racist.


6 Responses to “All non-black non-whites are “brown”?”

  1. Looks like a great blog you’ve got here. The topics look very interesting. As for this post, I feel kind of torn. First let me tell you where I fall on your side:

    I’m African-American and I’m guessing many of the posters at Racialicious are the same. And what makes me laugh and shake my head about my fellow African-American’s is this holier-than thou attitude when it comes to racism. It seems to me that many of us think that somehow because we’ve been the butt of so much racist behavior that we’re somehow immuned from catching that same bug called racism. And it’s not always a spoken belief, but it seems to me that the belief can sometimes manifest itself in blacks saying very racist things without even thinking they’ve done anything wrong and I think we should be called on it more often.

    On the other hand, I think sometimes people are overly-sensitive. And the term racist is tossed around all too often, but let fast forward to my point… White people aren’t white. (Albinos are white.) White people are peach. (That’s the color in the crayola box I used when coloring pictures of white people: peach)… Black people aren’t black. They vary from a light shade of brown to reddish brown to yellowish brown to a very very dark brown, but the point is if a black person stands in front of a blackboard you’re still going to see him.

    Personally, I don’t like to use the term brown people for the “in betweens”, I prefer to just use the nationality to refer to a group, and I can see how it can offend you, but at the same time… Well you get my point. I’ve rambled long enough.

  2. I’m not sure…
    I think it depends on how it (brown) is used. Many times, it’s just substituted for minority or non-white.

  3. A lot of people don’t like the term “minority.” Well, “brown” is worse.

  4. Kai said

    I’m Chinese and I regularly refer to all people of color as The Brown. It’s partly funny, partly convenient, partly solidarity, partly true. Ever traveled through rural China and met farmers who work day in and day out in the pounding sun? Brown. People of African descent? Darker brown. South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, Indigenous Americans? Light to medium brown. It just kinda works. And is, like I said, convenient, especially when you spend a lot of time talking and writing about race.

    As for “minority”, the reason it’s offensive is that it’s untrue: people of color are a majority in this world. And “non-white” is obviously offensive because it defines us negatively against whiteness.

    That said, if you have a strong rationale for why “brown” is offensive, I’d be happy to hear it out.

  5. […] Comments Kai on All non-black non-whites are…uglyblackjohn on Media and Immigrant/Second Gen…chinesecanuck on Media and Immigrant/Second […]

  6. Chelita said

    I’m not sure about Chinese or Japanese, but I know in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and some other Asians countries there are some “brown” people. There are some Asians that are darker than me,and I don’t think all of these people are brown just because of working in the sun. You have white people who can live and work in the sun and never get brown. Last year, there was a lady at work who referred to me as as brown. It was my first time hearing that. Hopefully, one day, we’ll put on God’s eyes, and see each other as people.

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