Main Ambiguously Brown Discussion

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07:43:32 PM Jun 5th 2016
There are quite a few anime examples that are simply Japanese and the skin color is just decorative. Just because Western people can't wrap their heads around it...

Also, I personally like the idea that it's not necessary to state a character's ethnicity... it's one of those things where it's supposedly anti-racist to ask for it to be cleared up, but if there's a light-skinned, dark-haired character, you don't ask what portion of their genes are North European vs. Mediterranean vs. East Asian vs. whatever else... so dark-skinned people should be given the same respect. Unless you think all dark-skinned people would rather be Captain Ethnic.
04:38:24 PM Sep 9th 2014
edited by
Black and Puerto Rican have never been two mutually exclusive conditions. Carlito Colón, a native Puerto Rican fathered by a native Puerto Rican who identified himself as black, identifies as "half" black. Does anyone have any citation or even just remember a time when Homicide said he wasn't black? I know Konnan has alluded to the fact he wasn't but I will laugh in my screen if that's evidence Cubans can't be black.

If Homicide doesn't identify as black, that's his business, I would not hold it against and never thought he looked the part anyway but that's not even the issue at this point.

edit:And I'm really sorry for bringing this to the discussion tab. Maybe I should have just posted on the forums but Wrestling related topics tend to move at a Glacier's pace there and all my attempts to contact Paul Sebert have been unsuccessful.
02:28:35 PM Mar 30th 2012
edited by Stoogebie
I can see this trope being reasonably justified in some settings; like if the setting is more fantasy, and one could hardly bother to identify the specific ethnicity of "white" characters.

EDIT: To clarify, why doesn't anyone make such a fuss over light-skinned characters?
03:10:13 PM May 28th 2012
edited by enistoja
Agreed. Why does it even matter, anyway? To begin with, this seems to describe more the fandom's attempt at categorizing people by skin colour, not something that drives the plot on its own like a trope should.
01:23:32 PM Jun 17th 2012
Probably because Humans Are White.
04:46:36 PM Nov 8th 2012
edited by johnnye
Yeah, I don't really get it. Americans in particular seem to be really interested in cataloguing people's ethnic heritages back to the nth generation — as far as I can tell it's based on an idea that ethnicity = cultural background (though that doesn't explain why the whole of Africa and the Caribbean is considered to be one race for such purposes).

I suppose making a character brown without explanation smacks of tokenism to some people, but that attitude just continues the idea that whiteness is the "unmarked" state and any other ethnicity is an unusual thing worthy of special attention.
02:47:03 AM Dec 16th 2014
Well, it's also that whites generally play white characters and blacks generally play black characters, but it's common to see other 'mid-toned' ethnicities/races play each other on the idea that they look about the same (Yul Brynner as a SE Asian, Jason Scott Lee as an Indian, etc).
05:30:08 AM Dec 16th 2014
Isn't that Plays Great Ethnics?
10:02:33 AM Mar 23rd 2012
Edited the page a bit to mentioned that debates like things tend to be purely fan things. Presumably if the status of a character is at all relevant to a story, it would come up.

Tho I'm more troubled by the idea. Is there any specific reason fandom seems be more obsessed with identifying the unknown-status/statelessness of a dark-skinned character more than a light skinned one?

01:43:58 AM Mar 18th 2012
edited by LoserTakesAll

  • This exchange from Archer:
    Archer: You're black ... -ish.
    Lana: -ISH?!
    Archer: Well what's the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said quadroon.

Because Lana's ethnicity isn't ambiguous: she's mixed race black and white (the show hasn't explored her family, but she clearly self-identifies as black while not correcting anyone who points out that she's part white). In the quote, Archer isn't referring to not knowing what her ethnicity is, he just doesn't know a word for it that doesn't offend Lana ("quadroon" being a fairly archaic and offensive term for someone with one white parent and one parent of mixed black and white heritage).
10:05:53 AM Jan 6th 2012
This is how most small white children experience brown people at first. The amount of exposure and so on influences how fast they learn to draw distinctions, but to start it's inevitably going to be 'darkish-colored person.' My first kiss was a (pale) black neighbor boy at eight or nine, whom I didn't see much of from then on after alarming my grandmother that way, and it was ten years later a chance remark at a family dinner about possibly having seen him around town informed be of his race. I was barely aware such a thing as race existed at that age, and have mild prosopagnosia, so though I recalled him as 'dark' he could've been a rather tanned Pole for all I knew.
12:53:10 PM Mar 5th 2014
Black History Month when I was about six and my mom asked me if I knew any black people. I said no. Mom pointed out our neighbor two doors down who babysat me. I go, "She's not black, she's brown!"
01:01:29 PM May 1st 2011
"She looks like she would actually be Roma, instead of the blonde princess that lives amongst the Roma." I would really like to introduce the one who posted that to a whole lot of blonde and sometimes blue-eyed Roma. There are a LOT of them. Roma aren't your dirty= brown-brown-brown stereotype. Our outward appearances are just as various as our religions - there are orthodox, catholic and muslim Roma, and some smaller traditional folk beliefs here and there. Please do your homework before being snippy and offending other people.
12:44:06 PM Apr 14th 2011
Should the ancient Egyptians get some sort of mention here? 19th-century Eurocentric anthropologists said they were Caucasian, various black nationalist groups have said that they were black, and I'm sure other claims have been made. Given that their civilization lasted thousands of years and they were invaded by foreign nations multiple times, saying that they were any one ethnicity is probably inaccurate. Their portrayals of themselves doesn't help matters, because they would do things like consistently portray women as much paler than men, so they probably weren't concerned with painting literal representations of what they looked like. But I'm not sure what category this would fall under, or even if it belongs on the page. What do you guys think?
09:33:57 PM Mar 18th 2011
Where does Erick Avari go? The dude's played over two dozen nationalities, including an extraterrestrial human descendant of ancient Egyptians. If that doesn't qualify as ambiguous, what does?
12:55:04 PM Mar 5th 2014
People in real life don't have ambiguous ethnicities unless they forgot 'em, so nowhere. (FYI, he's of Indian descent.)
07:39:51 PM Jun 5th 2016
  • raises hand* I identify as ambiguously brown.
06:55:32 PM Dec 10th 2010
How's Italian an ethnicity? and how're they brown at all? You must have never seen an Italian person if you'd colour them brown.

04:03:30 PM Jan 22nd 2011
It isn't an ethnicity, but it is an ethic group. I live in a very Italian part of Boston and there are several people who have pretty dark complexions and are full-blooded Italians, and I knew a girl whose was Italian but could easily pass for Hispanic or Middle Eastern. The Italians here probably aren't as dark as some others on account of it being New England, but they're also not a uniform group and there are significant variations.
10:00:44 AM Jan 6th 2012
Mediterranean complexions tend on the whole to be significantly darker than those of Germanic and Nordic and Celtic and the majority of Slavic persons. Some very much so.
06:30:13 AM Mar 5th 2014
I'm Italian. 99% of the Italians I know don't look brown in the slightest. Some Italians do have a darker complexion than people from Northern Europe (or rather, people from Northern Europe tend to be even more fair-skinned than average), but not enough to label them brown. I think their inclusion is kinda misleading since most of the time you couldn't tell them apart from any other European
12:34:25 PM Nov 10th 2010
edited by
"Brazilian" is not an ethnicity or race.It's just a nationality (Brazilian people have very different skin colors and physical traits). The same is probably valid to other "ethnicities" listed there. That should be corrected.
10:52:40 AM Dec 2nd 2010
Then go right ahead and correct it. I don't think anyone is stopping you.
08:26:02 PM Oct 30th 2010
Can we get rid of the Real Life bit (c.f. Proud Warrior Race Guys)? It just seems to be a listing of actors and celebrities who tropers know are mixed race, especially ones who frequently play Ambiguously Brown. It's kind of not the business of tropers to be all, "I don't know what race Keisha Castle-Hughes is, therefore she's ambiguously brown!" Just because these people (mostly actors) commonly *play* people who are Ambiguously Brown, doesn't mean there's anything about them that is ambiguous.
08:53:09 PM Oct 30th 2010
I would say kill that section and certain live-action bits. It's a trope rooted in animation.
12:28:43 PM Oct 31st 2010
I took that out and added a disclaimer up top. Should be keep the Live-Action TV bit as well?
02:45:54 PM Oct 31st 2010
At least one of the live action examples is a puppet (LazyTown's Mayor Meanswell), so the section has to stay even if you zap the rest of the examples. I'd personally argue that while real people aren't truly 'ambiguous' (since you can always ask/look it up/mind your own business), a live action character can be, as something of a subtrope of Fake Nationality. Lana Lang is ambiguous, as she's supposed to be white in-story despite being clearly not, while Teyla and Ronon's ethnicities are known, just not Terran.
12:56:33 PM Nov 1st 2010
I'd be okay with keeping the Live Action Tv section under that rationale.
11:42:11 AM Aug 8th 2010
this page needs another image. This one is Just a Face and a Caption.
09:52:38 AM Sep 23rd 2010
Given the nature of the trope, that seems appropriate.
12:26:24 PM Oct 31st 2010
I think it works in this case, since let's face it, pretty much any image we do for this trope is gonna be Just a Face and a Caption.
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