Race, Place and Historic Moment – Black and Japanese American World War II Veterans: The G.I. Bill of Rights and the Model Minority Myth

Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation (Robert S. Chang & Greg Robinson eds.), Forthcoming

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-20

5 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2015

See all articles by Taunya Lovell Banks

Taunya Lovell Banks

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2015

Abstract

The most commonly touted social change in the United States following the end of World War II is the expansion of the American middle class. The more frequently invoked narrative holds that the G.I. Bill, by providing veterans previously unavailable educational opportunities, elevated the socioeconomic status of a substantial segment of the American population as they entered their most productive working years. Black and Japanese American soldiers who fought abroad in racially segregated units to “make the world safe for democracy,” returned to fight, with others, for full citizenship rights at home in the civil rights movements of the mid twentieth century. During this period second generation Japanese Americans (Nisei), but not blacks, achieved near economic parity with whites causing some to characterize them as a “model minority.” Historian Roger Daniels, writing that “the transformation [of Japanese Americans] from ‘pariah to paragon’ [was not] merely a mechanical adjustment of market forces,” urged historians to more closely examine the factors contributing to the relative post-war economic success of Japanese Americans. This chapter takes on an aspect of Daniels’ challenge. It asks whether the advantages allegedly conferred on WWII veterans who received G.I. Bill benefits explains the current socio-economic status of Japanese Americans, or whether other factors better explain their relative postwar success.

Keywords: social change, socioeconomic status, G.I. Bill, housing, higher education, postwar, racial subordination, veterans, Nisei

Suggested Citation

Banks, Taunya Lovell, Race, Place and Historic Moment – Black and Japanese American World War II Veterans: The G.I. Bill of Rights and the Model Minority Myth (August 25, 2015). Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation (Robert S. Chang & Greg Robinson eds.), Forthcoming; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2650417 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2650417

Taunya Lovell Banks (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

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