What is a suburb selling if it is “home to proud Americans”? Whiteness

New Lenox, Illinois is running radio ads extolling its virtues. They include: a growing population, new retail facilities, and opportunities for business. The final selling point? It is “home to proud Americans.” What exactly does this piece of boosterism mean?

If I was guessing, I would say that this is a largely white, working-class to middle-class community. Using this hint to patriotism hints at hard working, long established families. Perhaps the residents of New Lenox are similar to the counties largely in the South where the largest number of residents claim American ancestry. This doesn’t mean people of other backgrounds can’t be “proud Americans” but they may not phrase it that way or lead with it as a key selling point.

Here are the Census QuickFacts for New Lenox: 96.2% white, 5.7% Latino, 3.5% foreign born, 35.5% have a bachelor’s degree, 2.9% poverty rate, and a median household income of $93,609. New Lenox is largely white and wealthy (though not necessarily educated – the bachelor’s degree rate is only a few percentage points higher than the national average).

This is an example of patriotism as racially coded language. The ad may suggest that New Lenox welcomes “proud Americans” but this is not just about love of country; it is about a particular kind of resident.

9 thoughts on “What is a suburb selling if it is “home to proud Americans”? Whiteness

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  7. The civil unrest we are witnessing in 2020 is not incredibly different than those our nation suffered in 1968. I remember when New Lenox proudly claimed to be called ‘Home of Great Americans’ during that era. A clash of cultures and values resulted in village leaders willingness to stand up to the haters and defend American values and our cherished and hard fought way of life. To try to put a racist or privileged slant on this motto is both hateful and shows total ignorance on the author’s behalf. The free and the brave will always prevail. Sadly, often, the price is high.


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