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World War Ii’s Influence On Mexicans

1469 words - 6 pages

It is without a doubt that World War II had a great impact on our nation as a whole. This is because the war required changes and sacrifices for most individuals and was viewed as one’s patriotic duty. As with any life changing event, there were bad and good consequences that were a direct result of World War II. Significant changes took place during World War II that directly affected Mexicans in the United States. Although there were some positive effects on a national level, most remembered are the negative ones that impacted the Mexican communities in Los Angeles, California. It is what became to be known as the Zoot Suit Riots. To understand the Mexican community’s point of view ...view middle of the document...

Typically they were looked at as disturbed youth. However, within their social system, their gangs were made up of a select membership and specific attire which they viewed as first class. The attire they chose was the Zoot Suit which consisted of colorful long coats, baggy pants, a hat, a long key chain and thick soled shoes.
Adverse views of Mexicans were on the rise during World War II. One contributing factor was the pro war posters placed for all to view. The posters encouraged community effort to support the war through gardening, carpooling, rationing and purchasing bonds. The people portrayed in these posters appeared to be of Caucasian descent while enemies were portrayed with color and black hair. Suspicion of who to trust was also put in the public’s mind with a poster illustrating a woman with dark hair and eyes that had a grim stare. No doubt the color of people illustrated on the posters guided the public’s mind to believe that people of any color other than white were the enemy. In addition, while the country was at war there was a constant fear and talk of spies and traitors among civilians. This fear led to the suspicion that secret agents of the enemy had successfully influenced the Mexican-American youth making them traitors. Of course signs posted at various locations around town stating things such as “No Mexicans” and “No Dogs, Mexicans, Negros” not only served as a reminder to Mexicans on how they were viewed, but also made the White people feel justified in their prejudice towards Mexicans.
In August of 1942, teenagers from the 38th Street Gang were heading for a popular swimming hole called Sleepy Lagoon. Earlier two teenagers in that gang, Hank Leyvas and his girlfriend Dora, had been beaten by another neighborhood gang at the Sleepy Lagoon swimming hole. Although they had left after the fight, they were now returning with a large group of friends to look for their attackers to defend their honor. As they neared the swimming hole and found no one, they decided to go to a party that could be heard through the trees. They thought that they would find their attackers at this party. Although the fight that followed resembled a classic teenager fight that lasted only ten minutes, the discovery of a dead body would change the lives of many Mexicans. When the dead body of Jose Diaz was found, siz hundred Mexican-American youth were rounded up by Los Angeles Police Department. This eventually led to twenty-two alleged members of the 38th Street Gang being accused of murder. On October 13, 1942 People v. Zamora went to trial and lasted through January 12, 1943. One momentous means that amplified the enactment of the riots was the information printed in the newspaper on this trial. The articles would depict the Mexican-American youth as out of control and had titles such as “Mexican Goon Squads” and “Zoot Suit Gangs”. Prior to the trial’s end in December, 1942, the popular magazine Sensation...

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