In the power of the Zoot, Luis Alvarez investigates the multiple meanings of the immensely popular zoot suit culture during world war two (Alvarez, p. 2). The youth were extremely influenced by the zoot suit. The zoot suit gave minorities a sense of belonging. Throughout this book, the author discusses race, gender roles, generation differences, dignity, and national belonging/violence during world war two.
Part one of this book “Dignity Denied: Youth in the Early War Years”, discusses the political and economic context of the United States in the early 1940’s, when the zoot suit style grew popular (Alvarez, p. 10). During world war two, many African and Mexican Americans contributed to the war effort, because they thought it was what they needed to do in order to improve their standard of living. African Americans and Mexican Americans even fought in the war. However they were still excluded from feelings of patriotism and national belonging because of their race. Even though they were essential in the war effort, they were still being discriminated against. They were expected to join the military and protect a country that failed to acknowledge their civil rights at home (Alvarez, p. 239).
African Americans and Mexican Americans were being denied equal membership in U.S society. This race discrimination denied dignity to those who were minorities. For minorities there was everyday discrimination in restaurants, public services, housing and education (Alvarez, p. 18). Both