Chocolate Suburb, Vanilla Power: Race, Space and Civil Unrest in Ferguson

  • Chanhaeng Lee Sungkyunkwan University
Keywords: Ferguson, Chocolate Suburb, Vanilla Power, Deterritorialization, Reterritorialization, Ecology of Power


In this article, I argue that the demographic and political restructuring of city−suburb dynamics in the United States is key to understanding what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, in the summer of 2014. Ferguson, a once-vanilla suburb where the overwhelming majority of residents were white Americans, was deterritorialized from the 1970s onward into a suburb where black Americans became the majority group. However, the whites, as a demographic minority, were still in control and tried to reterritorialize the black suburb. I maintain that the inevitable result of this disjunction between the chocolate suburb and vanilla power was racial antagonism, which exploded in Ferguson in 2014.

Author Biography

Chanhaeng Lee, Sungkyunkwan University
Chanhaeng Lee is a part-time lecturer in the Department of History at Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea and a board member of the Korean Society of American History. He received his Ph.D. in History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2012. His main research interests are twentieth-century U.S. history, Asian American studies, and race and ethnicity. His recent publications include “Reading Falling Down: Race, Class, and Gender in Los Angeles during the Early 1990s” (2018, in Korean), “The United States Presidential Election of 2016 and the Paradox of Democracy” (2017, in Korean), “‘An Invisible Design’: Asian Americans and the Making of Whiteness in the Early Twentieth Century” (2014, in English), and “Colorblind: A Study of American Liberal Racism since the mid-1960s (2014, in Korean). He can be reached at