By Charlotte Brooks
Between the early 1900s and the overdue Nineteen Fifties, the attitudes of white Californians towards their Asian American associates advanced from outright hostility to relative attractiveness. Charlotte Brooks examines this modification throughout the lens of California’s city housing markets, arguing that the perceived foreignness of Asian american citizens, which first and foremost stranded them in segregated components, ultimately facilitated their integration into neighborhoods that defied different minorities. opposed to the backdrop of chilly conflict efforts to win Asian hearts and minds, whites who observed little distinction among Asians and Asian americans more and more encouraged the latter group’s entry to middle-class lifestyles and the residential components that went with it. yet as they reworked Asian american citizens right into a “model minority,” whites purposefully neglected the lengthy backstory of chinese language and jap americans’ early and mostly failed makes an attempt to take part in private and non-private housing courses. As Brooks tells this multifaceted tale, she attracts on a large variety of assets in a number of languages, giving voice to an array of group leaders, reporters, activists, and homeowners—and insightfully conveying the complexity of racialized housing in a multiracial society.
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Additional info for Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California
As a white resident concluded, in language straight out of the nineteenth century: “Let the Chinese stay below Stockton. ”47 Indeed, nativism remained so pervasive in the 1920s that white San Franciscans, while they created segregationist neighborhood groups, largely ignored restrictionist devices, including the covenants so popular in other cities. Their reliance on racial tradition proved more than adequate: even Chinese Americans of means never managed to buy or rent homes in any of the newer outlying Chinatown: America’s First Segregated Neighborhood 27 residential districts, such as the Richmond or Twin Peaks.
B. 73 San Francisco’s Chinese Americans faced a related dilemma. To draw middle-class white tourists with money to spend, Chinatown had to at least flirt with the kinds of exotic stereotypes that frustrated and stymied Chinese aliens and American citizens alike. This flirtation ensured Chinatown’s survival but trapped its residents in a handful of prescribed, acceptable roles. Mayors and political leaders no longer Chinatown: America’s First Segregated Neighborhood 35 promised white constituents to erase Chinatown from the map and to rid the city of Chinese; instead, a growing number of white San Franciscans tolerated Chinatown’s presence, and some actually recognized it as an asset.
Area businessmen, both immigrant and native born, formed the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1908 to improve the district’s tourist economy, among other goals. Major firms, such as the Sing Chong bazaar on Grant Avenue, handed out colorful English-language postcards guaranteeing “one price” for tourists fearful of haggling with Chinese shopkeepers. 67 Innovative Chinese American restaurateurs soon joined the bazaar owners, catering explicitly to white tourists and trying to banish older stereotypes about Chinese eating rats and mice.