Theme Of Racism In West Side Story

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When I think of West Side Story, I think of the modern American version of Romeo and Juliet, the Jets (American gang) and Sharks (Puerto Rican gang), the amazing musical numbers, dance breaks, and let’s not forget all the snapping. I never thought of the injustice and racism that happens through song and characters actions in the movie. After recently watching it, I started to realize how these terrible things are actually still happening to this day. This movie has started to teach me how to recognize these issues and help me stop them from happening to the people around me through the lyrics of the songs and the way characters treat each other. A good example of racism in the movie West Side Story would be shown in the song America. These lyrics did not catch my attention until I watched it again a while ago. The song starts out with Anita talking about how much better America is than Puerto Rico and why she and the other Puerto Rican women prefer living here. During this time, the men, mainly Bernardo, are talking about how bad it is here for them and how they have to change their racial background to have a better life. The first couple lines that caught my attention line that caught my attention is when Bernardo sang “One look at us and they charge twice”, “better get rid of your accent”, and “if you are all white in America” when he was responding to Anita ("AMERICA"). These lines show how the only way the Puerto Ricans can achieve the dreams they have is to be mixed into the “white” American culture. Later in the song, Anita talks about how in America, the people have freedom and pride while Bernardo responds with “Long as you stay on your own side” ("AMERICA"). Anita tries to respond saying that the Puerto Ricans can be anything they choose to be, but once again Bernardo and the boys respond by saying they only can wait tables and shine shoes. This line in particular shows how the Puerto Rican boys feel like there are no chances for them America. Another big part of racism in West Side Story is how Lt. Schrank treats the Sharks and how he treats the Jets. Throughout the movie, Lt. Schrank tries to get the Jets to tell him where the Sharks are or what they are doing. He never believes that the Jets
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