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????


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.


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 '14 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]. – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '14 at 16:05

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