The Zoot Suits : A Time Of War For The United States

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The 1940s was a time of war for the United States. World War II had captured the attention of the world and the attention of many men ready to lay down their lives to fight overseas for their country. The war in Eastern Europe was not the only fight, though. There was one back home, in the western United States. It was the fight against racism, injustice, and prejudice. Mexican Americans were the popular targets and victims of this fight, and their opponents were servicemen, policemen, the press, and society itself. The cause of the conflict was the clothing the Mexican American male youth wore and chose to identify with, zoot suits. The zoot suits were more than just a fashion statement. The suits were part of the Mexican American youth…show more content…
The goal of this particular fashion was to be comfortable, unique, and to be fit for dancing, which the youth spent their free evenings doing, in particular, the jitterbug and the swing (Warren). The zoot suits were worn not only by Mexican American youths, but also by young, African Americans, Jewish people, and even Euro-Americans. The ones who tended to wear these suits mostly came from poor, working class families. As a way to protest and rebel against standard society, the suits were worn to distinguish themselves from everyone else. The rebellious youths took pride in their clothing and made it the look of their generation (VintageDancer.com). Zoot suit wearers were dubbed pachucos and with this look came its own language; Chuco, deriving from the word pachuco. A mixture of Spanish, English, and old Spanish made up this language of the barrio youths and gangs (Acuña 248). Since the zoot suits were so different and frowned upon by middle class citizens, society took to discriminating against pachucos, calling them criminals and gangsters. The military servicemen especially had strife with them. A growing conflict between the servicemen and the zoot-suiters would erupt in a historic event known as the Zoot Suit Riots. Despite the fact that many Mexican Americans were enlisted in the military, most Euro-American servicemen viewed pachucos as draft dodgers and regarded them as unpatriotic because of the unnecessary amount of

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