Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


American Studies

Reader 1

Lily Geismer

Reader 2

Ken Miller

Reader 3

Wendy Cheng

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Per the U.S. Census Bureau, the Latino population in the United States stands at 60.5 million. This thesis tells the story of a few hundred-thousand Mexican-Americans in Southeast Los Angeles County’s suburbs, who live in a region nicknamed the “Mexican Beverly Hills.” This is a unique site of middle-class ethnic affluence, but also a place where questions of “Hispanic” racial identity, assimilation, and belonging are played out. The Mexican Beverly Hills promises residents the fulfillment of their own (Mexican-) American Dream, but also plays into tropes of model minorities, demands assimilation and ethnic betrayal from its residents, and is the latest expression of the American project to control Latinos within its borders. This has resulted in the regional embrace of whiteness over ethnic kinship and genuine cultural belonging. Though not all residents fall into these tropes or assumptions, evidenced by widespread criticism over the term “Mexican Beverly Hills” and action against local anti-immigrant efforts, the “good Mexican” is still highly visible in the region’s political scene. City council-members have used the trope to their benefit, resulting in a landscape that stereotypes Mexican- Americans into performing for white acceptance. The Mexican Beverly Hills, and the trope of the “good Mexican,” are a warning regarding the perils of affluence and assimilation and should be used to educate other ethnic groups who pursue wealth and notions of intra-ethnic superiority.