Known as the era of affluence, the 1950s are couched between the nostalgic myth of the dominant culture that suggests Americans lived in suburban bliss with everything that consumerism had to offer and the reality that maintained the exclusionary practices of Jim Crow. Generally speaking, we associate the 1950s with stability, nuclear families, happiness, confidence, and consumerism. Nevertheless, while many white Americans escaped to the suburbs, minorities were largely excluded from this dominant culture. As “white flight” took place, minorities (mostly African-American) remained in the urban ghettos, excluded from these new enclaves of the American dream. “Freedom of association” (what term does these lead to that is used today?) became the rallying cry of those who opposed racial integration, as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) reversed Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and launched the modern civil rights movement. Of course, this is to say nothing of the constant threat of mutually assured destruction due to the arms race that was taking place.
After completing the assigned reading in the textbook and Cougar Courses, watching the videos, and reviewing the PowerPoint slides, answer the following:
Pick two opposing slides from the Powerpoint, one from the myth (slides 1 -27) and one from the reality (slides 28-48). What is different about the two? What can we determine about the very different worlds Americans were living in.
Regarding consumer culture and the expanding post-war economy, what do the advertisements suggest? (If women were pleased with their appliances and being at home, would magazines such as Housekeeping Monthly have needed to publish articles such as The Good Wife’s Guide?
Regarding slides 44-48, was living with the constant threat and anxiety of nuclear annihilation different in scope or scale from contemporary concerns such as school shootings or even COVID 19? (My generation was the last to conduct duck and cover drills with Bert the Turtle in elementary school, so it really wasn’t that long ago….at least to me.)
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