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The Zoot Suit Riots Essay Example

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The Zoot Suit Riots

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The Zoot Suit Riots. It was a way of expression that let people of color be seen in places that society said they were supposed to be invisible. The Mexican American youth picked up the culture and ran with it. Anyone wearing a zoot suit seemed to be more confident and self-assured. The challenge would come later because Mexican Americans were seen as criminals and the zoot suit made them stand out.The 1940s were a time when racism was rampant in the United States. Many Americans resented the fact that Mexicans were coming to the country during a population explosion. Many people came because of the Mexican Revolution and they were attempting to get out of the country. Blacks, poor whites and Mexicans were coming to Los Angeles faster than the people could understand and the social climate was already set.

Soon, World War II would break out and whites and blacks were forced to work together both in the war and at home. This was also a time when Japanese people were sent to internment camps under suspicion of "subversion and betrayal" and beaches in Los Angeles were being fortified by civilians in case the Japanese attacked the United States in that way.As the Mexican American youth began to adopt the style of the zoot suit, many Americans felt these youth were "rebels and delinquents who openly defied cherished American values and customs" ("Zoot Suit Riots: People and Events"). Thousands of servicemen would come into Los Angeles on leave, seeing that this was a good place to have fun and to party.With this attitude in mind, the events that happened during the riots would leave many people wounded or dead. The riots began on May 30, 1943 and continued until June 10, 1943. It seemed that it was a misunderstanding but the press was very active in making sure that the riots began and continued. The Los Angeles Daily News recorded the riots in a way that was prejudicial to those who were involved. Each time something happened they blew the situation out of proportion. They called attention to what was happening using words like "open warfare" or telling the men how to "de-zoot a zoot suiter". One newspaper told them to grab a "zooter" take his clothes off and burn them; many people followed this information towards the last days of the riots. The Los Angeles Times ran a headline that said "Zoot Suiters Learn Lesson in Fight with Servicemen ("Zoot Suit Riots: 1940s Los Angeles"). They later reported that the suit suiters were going to "kill every cop". The Zoot Suit Riots.

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Work Cited

"The Zoot Suit Riots." PBS Home Programs, American Experience. 11 May 2009. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/zoot/eng_peopleevents/e_riots.html>.
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preview essay on The Zoot Suit Riots
  • Pages: 3 (750 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: History
  • Level: Masters
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