The Angry Brown Person Complex

There are people who spend hours of mahi researching, staying up late, scrolling through countless papers to try and discover some new particle or what the meaning of life is. I haven’t done any of that. But today I present you something perhaps not as scientific, but a theory nonetheless. People usually try to create theories to understand their world around them, to help themselves feel comfortable. And today’s theory is no different: the angry brown person complex (ABPC).

To break this theory down in a nutshell, it is when a Māori is perceived as being a moaner or irate when all they are doing is making sure that Māori values, principles, tikanga are being properly considered. I write this from a Māori perspective, however it can apply to any “brown” or non-Pākehā person that tries to fight for their culture to be heard.

I’m throwing around the word theory a lot, when in actual fact it’s probably the wrong word. Although I may not have the APA referencing to back myself up here, I have the receipts from my own experiences, my friends’, whānau and colleagues’. It exists in so many facets of life and even though being the angry brown person is not a term we don’t want to use to describe ourselves, we feel it. Constantly battling against systems and people that refuse to understand or learn anything that doesn’t align with a mainstream view.

If you’re still a bit confused, it usually plays out like this:


Non-Māori 1: “So our visitors from overseas will be on-site next week?”
Māori: “Are we going to be welcoming them with a pōwhiri?”
Non-Māori 2: “Isn’t that a bit time consuming?”
Māori: “It’s just good tikanga, we could do a whakatau?”
Non-Māori: “We’ll see if we can fit it in”

Example 1 shows us that by trying to ensure we follow tika processes, we become the difficult one in the conversation where we have to justify ourselves why.


But the ABPC can even transcend the realm of the physical:

Facebook boomer: “why are these Mowris complaining about water again, move on from the past”
Māori: Reasonably well said comment that defends our culture and calls out their anti-racism
Facebook boomer: “go back to your own land, I was born here, Captain Cook is the best” (probably).

Example 2 shows us that Taika was absolutely correct. We’re racist asf.

The irony in all of this is that this article and even many of my previous pieces will come across as an angry brown person rant, but the complexity of the issue is that without people fighting the good fight nothing will change. Any good scientific research always has suggestions for the future, so here we go:

It’s time to begin changing the narrative in this country. This means being aware of weaving all things Māori into the systemic fabric that makes up everything we do, so that there is no need to argue, fight and moan to have our voices heard. We need to normalise conversations so that the only angry brown person in the room is your uncle who just needs to have a feed.

To all the people that have been the angry brown person in the room, I salute you. Imagine if MLK had said “I have a dream… but I don’t wanna talk about it”. Keep doing what you do, it’s time to make some angry white people too.

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