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Chicanas During Wwii Essay

916 words - 4 pages

The promotion of women to the workplace was apparent in WWII, but the zoot suit movement of young Chican@s forming their own unique society and social empowerment through fashion was less conspicuous. Chicana introduction into the U.S. high-wage workforce was an unprecedented leap forward for Chicana worker equality. Chicanas worked along-side white men, while maintaining proud Chicana, neither American nor Mexican, roots.

During WWII, Americans planned to “unite the races” for the benefit of the war and to uphold rigid American social standards. Rather than acknowledge the racial and cultural differences that are essential to personal meaning and ethnic identity/heritage, Anglos wanted to ...view middle of the document...

The climb toward social equality rapidly led to profiling Chican@s based on zoot suit apparel, and complexion, as a “criminal problem”. This is the Anglo way of maintaining geographic and synonymously, social, barriers between races. Anglos easily transformed casual garb that was worn by everyone into the specific insignia of “troubled” Mexican American youth in a most successful attempt to keep Chican@s in the fringes of society.

At the time, there was a large problem with juvenile delinquency, as there always has been (and always will be) in large urban centers. Authorities of Los Angeles labeled these criminals, who were of every race, as Mexican American gangs. Labeling criminals directly by race was slightly taboo to society (everyone wants to have the illusion of being unbiased), so instead of Mexican Americans they became known as Pachuc@s. The change of descriptive wording does not alter the target in any way, but allow Anglos to remain superior while feeling that they were not discriminating against a race, just Pachuc@s. Pachuc@s were really any Mexican American that we wanted society to target as criminals. Innocent people were labeled as Pachuc@s simply because they were Chican@; the point is that the descriptive word did not alter the racist intentions in any way. In fact, Anglos were afraid of the underlying racial consciousness of the “zoot suitors”. However, instead of facing perspectives of Anglo dominance, we demonized the minorities as “racial antagonists”. So our conquest for racist dominance was disguised as “can’t we all just get along?” (by maintaining the racially unequal social norms that comprise the American default that is comfortable for Anglos).

Rather, pachuc@ characterized a distinctly Mexican identity and limited (or ended) Americanization. There was no Anglo-perceived connection between the criminogenic label “pachuc@” and the fact that...

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