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Living in the Suburbs, Becoming Americans

Living in the Suburbs, Becoming Americans

Chapter:
(p.57) Chapter 2 Living in the Suburbs, Becoming Americans
Source:
Citizens of Asian America
Author(s):
Cindy I-Fen Cheng
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814759356.003.0003

This chapter examines suburbanization as a process of Americanization and how racialized minorities, particularly Asian Americans, came to be regarded as assimilable during the early Cold War years. Drawing on the case of Sing Sheng in San Francisco, it considers how the shift in the way Asian Americans were perceived by dominant society, from unassimilable to assimilable, documented the changes that occurred in Cold War America to make racial equality a desirable ideal. It also discusses the ways state-sponsored studies emphasized assimilation not only as an effective means to rectify the housing disparities between whites and nonwhites, but also as an important ideological construct that prevented racism from undermining the credibility of U.S. democracy. Finally, it explains how ideas about gender and sexuality bolstered the desirability of Asian Americans in Cold War America. The chapter suggests that the path to residential freedom entailed not only the outlawing of race-based restrictions in housing but also nonwhite assimilation to the values and lifestyle of white middle-class suburbanites.

Keywords:   suburbanization, Americanization, Sing Sheng, Asian Americans, racial equality, assimilation, racism, U.S. democracy, sexuality, housing

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