"Brown" is the the increasingly popular term used by the youth of south-Asian decent to define themselves and their ethnicity in north america.
Not desi or deshi, which is the other term that is being cycled through these days.
Despite the ardent efforts by 'Desiwear', the term 'desi' has never taken off. For one, its very contrived and second, its not a term that belongs to every language of the south-asian countries(formally Indian subcontinent) - we have atleast 25 different ones I hear.
So while describing something 'ethnic', its always...the 'brown culture', the 'brown guys/girls', 'brown parents' etc.
But try slipping the 'brown' term in everyday conversation with a 'non-brown' person and you'll get a look ranging from blank to horrified and you are stuck for the next hour reassuring them that its not a racist 'N' word for south-asian people.
Yes we are referring to the colour of the skin, but its deeper than that.
Something to do with 'bhangra' at some point I'm sure (erm..about that. sure the drums are wonderful but, honestly haven't we had enough of bearded guys in skirts and flamingo coloured turbans climbing over each other in the pretext of 'dance'?)
Anyway, even with all the positive connotations, the term is not without its problems.
This blogger was recently close to committing something disparaging with the hasty reference to a 'brown event' while talking to someone with brown skin but not of south-asian decent. For your average foot in your mouth- this one was a Yeti. Nonetheless, it was all sorted out. I think. My place wasn't torched or anything.
So "Brown" remains as the word of choice.
The 'brown' thing is also suddenly very IN now .....and not only in Canada it seems.
-on the intensive import/marketing of Aishwariya Rai as the next Catherine Zeta Jones (more like Penelope Cruz if you ask me) or
- the latest 'bollywood' inspired trends for the last few years. ( you'd have to be blind to miss the posters for the upcoming charity fashion show 'Bollywood Cowboy', featuring a hard ab-bed cowboy with a hat and henna tattoo on his back and low low butt-crack showing jeans. eww.)
-Credit movies like 'Bend it like Beckham' and 'Monsoon wedding' even.
'Brown' is not so weird anymore. Its.....well...kinda cool.
What this fad means for your average south asian youth bending over backwards to become a doctor/engineer/comp sci is unclear. We'll probably be making fewer excuses about our smelly food and colourful clothes. Probably.
But its a positive reinforcement for people trying to break into the entertainment business -everything from TV ads to movies- in something beyond the stereotypical 'Walmart shopper' or 'convenience store owner' role. Something more mainstream. (How about that Kal Pen eh?) Some 'brown' models for the Tommy(R) ads maybe, since we are their primary customers.
Maybe it will be taken to the next level where we would finally be able to find the perfect 'foundation' to match our skin tone and not have to go to obscure companies.
Though the 'accent' would never be cool, I'm afraid.