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Prejudice and Racism - Home Ownership in A Raisin in the Sun and in America

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The Black’s Quest for a Home Ownership in A Raisin in the Sun and in America

 
In the famous 1959 "kitchen debate" with Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev, Richard Nixon asserted the American Dream of homeownership was available to all Americans regardless of class, race, or any other social constraint. For Nixon, this claim was proof of America's dominance over Russia-of democracy's superiority over communism. Nixon, however, greatly exaggerated the availability of homeownership; owning a home in the suburbs was not an option for all Americans, particularly African Americans. Government subsidies, which were so important in making homes affordable, were not extended to blacks. Furthermore, suburban communities around the country sought to keep their neighborhoods segregated by prohibiting blacks from buying homes through "restrictive covenants." William Levitt, whose Levittown communities symbolized postwar prosperity and the American Dream, would not sell homes to blacks until the government mandated him to integrate in the late 1950s. And the black families who were then successful in attaining a home in the suburbs risked constant threats and violence from their white neighbors who feared, among other issues, that their property values would decrease and their communities would decay. In her 1958 play A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry tackled these issues before they had fully exploded into the American conscience. Her play reveals the fears and restraints, which kept many blacks from achieving the 1950's American Dream.

 

       The dominant theme in A Raisin in the Sun is the quest for home ownership. The play is about a black family living in the Southside of Chicago-a poverty-stricken, African Ame...


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Jackson, Kenneth. The Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. New York. Oxford University Press, 1985.

Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land.  New York.  Vintage Books, 1991.

Marling, Karal Ann.  As Seen on TV.  Cambridge. Harvard University Press, 1994.

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound. New York. Basic Books, 1988.

Patterson, James T.  Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974. New York. Oxford University Press,1996.

Riesman, David. The Lonely Crowd.  New Haven. Yale University Press, 1961.

Rose, Jerry D. The Lonely Crowd: A Critical Commentary.  New York. Americn R.D. Corporation, 1965.

Rosenberg, Rosalind. Divided Lives: American Women in the Twentieth Century. New York. Hill and Wang, 1992.

Segrue, Thomas J. The Origins of the Urban Crisis. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press, 1996.


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