The Zoot Suit Riots: The struggle of Mexican American youths

2076 Words Feb 7th, 2010 9 Pages
Los Angeles is well known for being the center of fashion, media and entertainment, but also serves as the home for many diverse populations: one of them being the Mexican Americans. Since their arrival, the Mexican Americans has been the target of racism from the white men in the United States. Mexican Repatriation resulted in the voluntary or involuntary migration of Mexicans during 1929-1937, in which 400-500,000 Mexicans left the United States and Mexican Americans were forced to become "American" through Americanization. These events led to the accumulation of tension between the two races, which then became apparent in the Sleep Lagoon Murder Trial of 1942 and exploded in the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. The Zoot Suit Riots represented …show more content…
"The Pachuco is a symbol not of the guilt of an oppressed Mexican minority, but of a cancerous growth within the majority group which is gnawing at the vitals of democracy and American way of life. The Pachuco and his feminine counterpart, the 'Cholitas,' are spawns of a neglectful society - not the products of a humble minority people who are defenseless before their enforced humiliation" (Daniels 206).

Wearing the zoot suits, the Pachucos represented their resistance against social expectations and were able to create their own subculture.

The female Mexican American youths, Pachucas or Cholitas, were viewed completely different from the male Pachucos. The Pachucas were very stylish and with their accessories worn, they were viewed as auxiliaries within the Mexican American youths (Daniels 202). While the male Pachucos wearing the zoot suits were viewed as threats to the society, the Pachucas were not viewed as "enemies within the country."On the evening of June 3, 1943, the tension between the Pachucos and the white men exploded in what is remembered as the Zoot Suit Riots. Eleven sailors got involved into a fight with youths that were thought to be Mexican Americans, since they were wearing a zoot suit. This incident was publicized and stimulated the resentment within the whites and the other stationed sailors in Los Angeles. In the following days, the white sailors drove around the city of Los Angeles, looking for Mexican Americans in zoot
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