Twitter is constantly blowing up with several trending topics. If you want to express your opinion, you tweet. If you want to direct outrage, you tweet. If you want to narrate random thoughts, you tweet. If you want to oppose or support someone or something, you tweet. If you want to start a movement, you tweet. The social media platform has become the go-to for minorities, including our South Asian diaspora, to unite. Brown Twitter is well and active, folks.
It might be to rally and support fellow desis, to come together to protest against discrimination and wrongdoing, or to simply talk about things that matter to the South Asian diaspora, but Brown Twitter has managed to join hands many times. Its easy to mishandle this social media platform so its up to us to use it responsibly so that we control our narrative versus letting others dictate it for us.
If you’re wondering who constitutes this desi Twitter community, it’s not any one person. From famous celebrities like Kal Penn, Kumail Nanjiani, Hari Kondabolu to important journalists like Wajahat Ali, Amna Nawaz, from politicians like Kamala Harris, Raja Krishnamoorthi to fellow citizens like you and me, we’re all a vital part of this growing movement.
Brown Twitter’s voice is not only important, it’s much-needed in today’s world no matter where you’re coming from. The political climate is rocky and as a minority group, we need to be heard. The entertainment industry is finally opening up doors to South Asians and we need to encourage it. Even the food and beauty world can’t resist what we have to offer whether its turning our lungi into a skirt or drinking “golden lattes” aka haldi doodh.
What can I say, Brown Twitter is no average undertaking.
On Jan 30, for example, the day of Donald Trump’s State of the Union Speech, #DesiWallOfShame was trending on Twitter. It referred to shameful.desi, a portal that holds South Asians in the current administration accountable for their actions.
Trump took office 1 year ago. His South Asian appointees/supporters have been pushing an anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights, anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-Internet agenda.
— Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi81) January 30, 2021
— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) January 30, 2021
During #SOTU, let’s draw attention to the South Asian appointees/supporters of Trump’s hateful policies and rhetoric. They have a place on the #desiwallofshame. Learn about the issues. Hold them accountable. Fight for justice. Spread the word: https://t.co/pThRwotrya
— Zahra Billoo (@ZahraBilloo) January 30, 2021
— Angel Sharma (@MyCupOfChai) January 30, 2021
— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) January 31, 2021
They all push an anti-civil rights agenda for the Trump administration. They are all turning back the clock. They all belong on the #DesiWallOfShame.
Find out why here: https://t.co/IqVaoJYOlG
— Jo Kaur (@SikhFeminist) January 30, 2021
— Vijay Das (@vijdas) January 30, 2021
These Desis should be ashamed of themselves in their support of 45’s regime, putting them on the #desiwallofshame. Hold them accountable. Fight for justice. Learn about the issues. https://t.co/V7oHyE4FWA
— Tuhina Verma Rasche (@tvrasche) January 30, 2021
Ajit Pai, the chairman of FCC, was instrumental in passing the vote that ended Net Neutrality. For weeks before the official vote was cast in December 2017, the desis on Twitter took up the hashtag #AjitPaiSucks in a way to communicate their disdain.
— Manjusha P. Kulkarni (@KulkarniManju) December 14, 2020
Representation is not an end in itself, especially when SA people use their power to further marginalize the already vulnerable. #AjitPaiSucks
— Eesha Ramanujam (@eramanujam) December 5, 2020
Dear @AjitPaiFCC, I apologize for my tweets questioning your “Brown-ness.” You are not a disappointment to Indian Americans…but to all Americans. You can eat a pakora while destroying #NetNeutrality. You can wear a kurta while catering to corporate interests. #AjitPaiSucks
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) December 3, 2020
Ajit Pai is the type of Indian who doesn’t give a head nod to other Indian people who walk by him. #AjitPaiSucks
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) November 26, 2020
— Aditi Juneja (@AditiJuneja3) November 26, 2020
Brown Twitter has come together many times to speak out against injustices and racism. In May 2016, rapper Azealia Banks took aim at singer Zayn Malik for allegedly copying her music video style. She escalated the matter by referring to him as ‘Punjab,’ like it’s an insult. Then, she decided it’s okay to call him a ‘curry scented bitch.’ Too bad she didn’t know what was coming. Instead of taking it as an insult, Brown Twitter made #curryscentedbitch their motto. It became a thing of pride. It all started with Jasmeet Raina aka JusReign, the Canadian-Punjabi YouTuber. He started calling Banks out and the rest of our desi community followed.
— Liyena malik (@LiyenaKumari) May 14, 2021
— Arti sood (@ArtiSood_) May 11, 2021
— Irene Khan (@irenesarah) May 11, 2021
— Princess✨ (@MasalaMuffin_) June 14, 2021
lmao when azealia banks thought #curryscentedbitch would put people down
— हरामी (@macdaddyparnell) May 25, 2021
Listening to Lemonade and eating chana masala on public transit. Hope everyone is enjoying my #CurryScentedBitch lunch.
— [bad beti] (@RadRoopa) May 18, 2021
Of course, its not all bad. We’re a proud diaspora who support each other’s successes. Last year, especially, has been a monumental one for South Asian-Americans, especially in pop culture. November saw the release of Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu,” in which he tackles the long-running misrepresentation of South Asians on “The Simpsons.”
— kash gandhi (@AakashGandhi1) January 24, 2021
‘The Problem With Apu’ is a great, funny and insightful documentary. Definitely check it out if you havent. Props to @harikondabolu!
— Vicky (@SoLikeVicky) January 21, 2021
@harikondabolu I just watched the Problem With Apu doc. Very well done. I haven’t had a chance to see if anything has gone further, but thank you for pushing the dialogue. It’s not only important for your people, but all persons of color and the challenges they face. Thank you.
— Short Fuze (@ShortFuze) January 16, 2021
Just watched @harikondabolu‘s The Problem with Apu and as an Indian American who grew up on the Simpsons, this was really well done.
— Pranks “We are the spark” Paul (@roguetldr) January 15, 2021
I really enjoyed The Problem With Apu, a doc by @harikondabolu! I’m always talking about how important representation is bc I grew up with basically no Indian idols in film/tv -just the same offensive stereotypes and white actors putting on their ‘most offensive indian accent’ 👀
— k✨ (@kaylapatelfilm) January 15, 2021
I’m only a couple minutes in, but EVERYONE should watch “The Problem With Apu” because it’s every south Asian’s life in America.
— Henna Khemani (@Hennakhe) January 6, 2021
Brown Twitter erupts anytime fellow desis make us proud. Recently, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon were nominated for an Academy Award for their movie “The Big Sick.” In 2017, actors like Riz Ahmed, Dev Patel, Priyanka Chopra, and Aziz Ansari created ripples at the many award ceremonies with their wins and red carpet looks. South Asians left their mark even in local politics, with leaders like Ravi Bhalla becoming the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.
In its own way, Brown Twitter is bringing about not only a social change but its our way of showing off the good and pointing out the negative. It’s our way of saying, we’re out here, in troves, holding ourselves and others accountable.