The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority

The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority

by Ellen D. Wu
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press


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The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority

The Color of Success tells of the astonishing transformation of Asians in the United States from the "yellow peril" to "model minorities"—peoples distinct from the white majority but lauded as well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values—in the middle decades of the twentieth century. As Ellen Wu shows, liberals argued for the acceptance of these immigrant communities into the national fold, charging that the failure of America to live in accordance with its democratic ideals endangered the country's aspirations to world leadership.

Weaving together myriad perspectives, Wu provides an unprecedented view of racial reform and the contradictions of national belonging in the civil rights era. She highlights the contests for power and authority within Japanese and Chinese America alongside the designs of those external to these populations, including government officials, social scientists, journalists, and others. And she demonstrates that the invention of the model minority took place in multiple arenas, such as battles over zoot suiters leaving wartime internment camps, the juvenile delinquency panic of the 1950s, Hawaii statehood, and the African American freedom movement. Together, these illuminate the impact of foreign relations on the domestic racial order and how the nation accepted Asians as legitimate citizens while continuing to perceive them as indelible outsiders.

By charting the emergence of the model minority stereotype, The Color of Success reveals that this far-reaching, politically charged process continues to have profound implications for how Americans understand race, opportunity, and nationhood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691168029
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 12/29/2015
Series: Politics and Society in Modern America Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 380,392
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ellen D. Wu is assistant professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction Imperatives of Asian American Citizenship 1

Part I War and the Assimilating Other 11

Chapter 1 Leave Your Zoot Suits Behind 16

Chapter 2 How American Are We? 43

Chapter 3 Nisei in Uniform 72

Chapter 4 America's Chinese 111

Part II Definitively Not-Black 145

Chapter 5 Success Story, Japanese American Style 150

Chapter 6 Chinatown Offers Us a Lesson 181

Chapter 7 The Melting Pot of the Pacific 210

Epilogue Model Minority/Asian American 242

Notes 259

Archival, Primary, and Unpublished Sources 333

Index 341

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