Mexican Americans During The World War II

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Scores of Latino men went off to war by the hundreds of thousands fighting in every major battle in both the European and Pacific theatres. More Mexican Americans serving in combat divisions than any other ethnic group and a high percentage volunteered for the more hazardous duties such as the paratroopers and Marines (Meier & Ribera). Mexican Americans that served gained a recognition that was not possible in civilian life, and through the military, promotion was based off of individual merit. This developed a newfound self-esteem and confidence that would not be wrestled away. They would come home with pride and a feeling of being more 'American ' than ever before. These sentiments leveled out the playing field in the minds of many…show more content…
Despite the war efforts by many Mexican Americans in both fronts of the war, brutal discrimination was still rampant even in the very neighborhoods (barrios) that they called home. The Sleepy Lagoon Case, dubbed as such by the LA press, was an example of racial tension brought to light. In the heat of August 1942 gang member Jose Diaz was found unconscious near a swimming hole named the Sleepy Lagoon where many young Latinos and gang members would go to swim as they were not permitted to frequent Anglo only natatoriums. Diaz who never regained consciousness had apparently suffered a skull fracture, but no murder weapon or proof of murder was ever found. In the face of these facts, authorities blamed twenty-four youths, only one of which was Anglo. Citing Mexican American 'lawlessness and mischievousness ' as proof enough that they were to be at fault. The notoriously corrupt Los Angeles Police Department charged the twenty-four who were involved in a gang clash earlier in the day with murder. It was no secret that Judge Charles Fricke was blatantly racist and he repeatedly allowed prosecutors to stereotype the defendants. He also refused to allow the defendants change of clothes or haircuts so as to have them resemble in the courtroom how he viewed Mexican Americans: as criminals and hooligans, because of the belief 'only hoodlums wore zoot suits '. In January 1943, the jury without any solid evidence found
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