Brown is not an identity. Brown, along with its nominal form, brownness, are also not objects of knowledge in the ways that identity markers such as “Latina/o” or “Chicana/o” are in the late twentieth and early twenty- first centuries. The more popularly used ethnic marker aligned with a certain hue or accent of brownness, “Latina/o” is widely understood as designating a population historically displaced from Latin America and living in the United States. Other identity variants exist within the Latina/o population that are assigned to people from specific national and cultural heritages; the most widely used of these is the politically charged banner of Chicana/o, which signifies a person of Mexican descent or origin living in the U.S. Southwest. The definitional incoherence of Latina/o—let alone Chicana/o, Cuban American, Nuyorican, and so on— reveals how not all identities capture the people, lives, and experiences they seek to demarcate. As a result, the aesthetic realm, particularly colors such as white, black, yellow, red, and brown, points to the impossible collection of people under one racial or ethnic category in the United States.

This essay may be found on page 25 of the printed volume.

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