By Charlotte Brooks
Between the early 1900s and the past due Nineteen Fifties, the attitudes of white Californians towards their Asian American pals advanced from outright hostility to relative reputation. Charlotte Brooks examines this alteration in the course of the lens of California’s city housing markets, arguing that the perceived foreignness of Asian americans, which firstly stranded them in segregated components, ultimately facilitated their integration into neighborhoods that confounded different minorities. opposed to the backdrop of chilly struggle efforts to win Asian hearts and minds, whites who observed little distinction among Asians and Asian americans more and more recommended the latter group’s entry to middle-class existence and the residential components that went with it. yet as they reworked Asian american citizens right into a “model minority,” whites purposefully overlooked the lengthy backstory of chinese language and eastern american citizens’ early and principally failed makes an attempt to take part in private and non-private housing courses. As Brooks tells this multifaceted tale, she attracts on a wide diversity of resources in a number of languages, giving voice to an array of neighborhood leaders, newshounds, activists, and homeowners—and insightfully conveying the complexity of racialized housing in a multiracial society.
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Additional resources for Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California
Newspapers and magazines catered to such ideas, publishing lurid and sensationalized accounts of Chinatown opium use, gang warfare, and prostitution. Public health officials and turn-of-the-century reformers drew on such lore to label the area squalid and disease-ridden. 37 Such stereotypes informed the city’s forty-year campaign to get rid of Chinatown, which occupied prime real estate just north of downtown San Francisco. As historian Yong Chen notes, many white San Franciscans felt that “the politically disfranchised and increasingly socially marginalized Chinese .
In contrast, the average Chinese in San Francisco lived in a neighborhood that was more than 62 percent Chinese; more than 80 percent of San Francisco Chinese lived in a single assembly district. The unpublished census schedules for 1880, which included detailed descriptions of smaller enumeration districts, show a degree of isolation much higher than the official assembly district numbers suggest. Most Chinese outside Chinatown lived with other Chinese in just one or two boarding houses or laundries in an otherwise all-white neighborhood.
The fluidity of Far West society also played a role in shaping white attitudes about nonwhites. Eric Foner contends that “where the social order was least stratified—as in the frontier states [like] California . . legal discrimination was most severe,” and not just against blacks. ” California’s first constitution even denied African Americans and American Indians the right to vote or to testify against whites in court. 17 Some fled upheaval and unrest. In the 1850s and early 1860s, the Taiping Rebellion, a massive internal revolt, claimed twenty million lives and devastated the infrastructure and economy of central and southern China.
Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California by Charlotte Brooks