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Asian American Firsts and the Progress toward Racial Integration

Asian American Firsts and the Progress toward Racial Integration

Chapter:
(p.85) Chapter 3 Asian American Firsts and the Progress toward Racial Integration
Source:
Citizens of Asian America
Author(s):
Cindy I-Fen Cheng
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814759356.003.0004

This chapter examines the successes of Asian Americans in the United States to emphasize the importance of cultural assimilation in bringing about racial integration as well as the willingness and ability of racialized minorities to prove their desirability to dominant society. Using the discourse on the first, it explains how Asian Americans assumed the role of model minorities during the early Cold War years and how the social status of Asians in general was employed as a measure of the credibility of U.S. democracy. The firsts were featured in mainstream periodicals to show how the nation was progressing toward a racially inclusive society. The chapter focuses on three individuals whose professional achievements made headlines during the early Cold War years: Sammy Lee, Jade Snow Wong, and Delbert Wong. Finally, it explores the concept of tokenism and how it undermined the first as an indicator of America's steady progress toward racial equality.

Keywords:   cultural assimilation, racial integration, U.S. democracy, professional achievements, Sammy Lee, Jade Snow Wong, Delbert Wong, tokenism, racial equality, Asian Americans

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