It's not a grammar question but I can't understand what it means. I would appreciate it if you could help me.

Young people in America are growing up in a country that is quickly becoming brown, where women outnumber men in colleges, where acknowledgement of sexual identity is increasingly met with shrugs.

Becoming brown?? met with shrugs????

  • 5
    Please include sources for your quotations. Aug 6, 2014 at 9:12
  • 1
    Seems to be from dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2014/08/01/…
    – dan04
    Aug 6, 2014 at 14:13
  • 3
    This question is obviously not about proofreading. It asks about the meaning of two phrases that are difficult to understand. It does not ask anyone to look for problems.
    – user230
    Aug 6, 2014 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


Becoming brown I assume, without more context, is to indicate white as decreasing in overall percentage of racial makeup of the US.

WikiPedia indicates:

The non-Hispanic White percentage (63% in 2012) tends to decrease every year, and this sub-group is expected to become a plurality of the overall U.S. population after the year 2043. White Americans overall (non-Hispanic Whites together with White Hispanics) are projected to continue as the majority, at 73.1% (or 303 million out of 420 million) in 2050, from the current, official 80%.

Plurality means there are more of one group than any another, but this doesn't mean more than all the other groups combined; that's a majority.

met with shrugs means "So what?". This is a change from displaying a firm bias for/against a certain position. In this case, "acknowledgement of sexual identity." Or, in other words, if a student claims to be homosexual, lesbian, etc., this claim is increasingly met with a lack of reaction.

  • Thank you TT It was my mistake that I didn't mention about the context. Your explanation seems perfect. Thanks!!!!
    – user9355
    Aug 6, 2014 at 9:08
  • Almost certainly, given the exact context, brown does indeed mean "Hispanic/Latino". If the writer had been talking about "Young people in Britain" it might tend to be interpreted as "mixed-race" (with black and white parents), although in practice the standard term for that is coffee[-coloured]. Aug 6, 2014 at 16:05

It means an increase in the proportion of the population that is not white. As for "met with shrugs," verbatim it means that people commonly react with a shrug of indifference where the writer would have expected them to react with a stronger emotion.

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