West Side Story : Race & Discrimination

1594 WordsApr 24, 20177 Pages
West Side Story: Race & Discrimination Introduction West Side Story, based on the book by Arthur Laurent, is a musical about a modern Romeo and Juliet involved in New York street gangs in the 1950’s. Aside from the movie portraying a love that was forbidden between the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang and the Jets, an Anglo-Americans gang; it also represents the discrimination, violence and economic exploitation Puerto Ricans faced when migrating to New York in the 1950’s. When West Side Story came out in 1961, it explains to the American audience why Puerto Ricans were migrating to the United States and their living conditions. The film has various themes and topics for a diverse range of analysis to be made, nevertheless, we will be…show more content…
Puerto Ricans who migrated to the United States experience a level of discrimination that wasn’t present in the island and both women and men were economically exploited and confronted racism and discrimination. Puerto Ricans, even though there were American citizens, they were treated as second class citizens. They also, faced an identity crisis, because while they wanted to keep part of their culture they needed to assimilate to reduce the discrimination. However, they became tired from being assaulted on a daily basis on the streets so, they formed gangs to protect themselves, since other gangs were trying to hold the outsiders, such as them, out. Media Content The film, as mention above, tells the story of two people from different gangs falling in love, a young Puerto Rican woman and a young Polish-American man. While the member of the Sharks, the Puerto Ricans, were portrayed as all of them one color, brown; Maria, the main female lead in the Puerto Rican gang, was shown as the lightest skin color of the gang and was the only one who fell in love with an American. It was clear to see how Maria, being the whitest would be the only one to have an interracial relationship. Racism is evident in the film by showing the Puerto Ricans being harassed and assaulted by both, the Jets and the police. The Jets, a gang composed of a
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