American-Born Confused Desi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"American-Born Confused Desi" ("ABCD") is an informal term used to refer to South Asian Americans particularly of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin, born or raised in the United States, in contrast to those who were born overseas and later settled in the USA.[1]


"ABCD" or "American-Born Confused Desi" has become a polarizing factor in the South Asian diaspora in the United States, with first-generation immigrant parents and young South Asians of second or later generations.[2] Though the term was originally coined in reference to Indian Americans, it has been adopted by the South Asian diaspora at large. The term "desi" comes from the Hindi word देश (deś, lit.'homeland'). The word has its origin in Sanskrit, deśa, and is pronounced desh in the Bengali language. "Desi" means "of the homeland" and is generally used by diasporas of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Although it is not used much in South Asia and not as a set identity like the diasporas do. The term has been commonly known among diasporas since at least the 1980s. The term "confused" is used to describe the psychological state of many second-generation South Asian Americans who struggle to balance values and traditions taught at home with attitudes and practices that are more conducive to the culture of The United States.

The longer and lesser known form "American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, House In Jersey" is also occasionally seen; playing on the alphabet theme, it has been expanded for K-Z variously as "Kids Learning Medicine, Now Owning Property, Quite Reasonable Salary, Two Uncles Visiting, White Xenophobia, Yet Zestful" or "Keeping Lotsa Motels, Named Omkarnath Patel, Quickly Reaching Success Through Underhanded Vicious Ways, Xenophobic Yet Zestful".[3] The former version of the A—Z expansion was proposed by South Asian immigrants as a reaction to the latter version that derogated them.[4]

Cultural implications[edit]

Among South Asian Americans, the term may be considered divisive, as first generation South Asian Americans use it to criticize the Americanization and lack of belonging to Indian Asian culture they perceive in their second-generation peers or children. At times, it could also be used to mock their outdated perception of their country of origin. [5] Writer Vijay Prashad describes the term as "ponderous and overused" and notes it as one of the mechanisms by which new immigrants attempt to make second-generation youth feel "culturally inadequate and unfinished".[6]


The term American-Born Confused Desi first appeared in the movie American Desi (2001).[citation needed] ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi is a 2013 Malayalam language movie released in India. The film narrates the journey of two young American Malayalees to their motherland, Kerala, with the title based on the term "American-Born Confused Desi".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Radhakrishnan, Rajagopalan, "Diaspora, Hybridity, Pedagogy", Peripheral Centres, Central Peripheries (ed. Ghosh-Schellhorn, Martina & Alexander, Vera), page 116, LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9210-7
  2. ^ Airriess, Christopher A., Contemporary Ethnic Geographies in America, page 287, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, ISBN 0-7425-3772-2
  3. ^ Das, Diya (2007), The Evolution of an Identity: Indian American Immigrants from the Early 20th Century to the Present, Tribute Books, p. 60, ISBN 978-0-9795045-6-3
  4. ^ Mitra Kalita, S., Suburban Sahibs, page 13, Rutgers University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8135-3665-0
  5. ^ Skop, Emily (2007). "Asian Indians and the Construction of Community and Identity". In Ines Miyares; Christopher A. Airriess (eds.). Contemporary Ethnic Geographies in America. Rowman and Littlefield. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-7425-3772-9.
  6. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2000), The Karma of Brown Folk, University of Minnesota Press, p. 131, ISBN 0-8166-3439-4

Further reading[edit]