The Zoot Suit Riots: The struggle of Mexican American youths

Essay by dora148University, Bachelor'sB-, February 2010

download word file, 8 pages 0.0

Downloaded 17 times

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 an obvious discrimination and violence against the Mexican American youths by the white men in the United States.

The zoot suits were: high-waisted, wide-legged and long coat suits that were popular within the African and Mexican American community in the 1930s to 1940s.

According to Julian Samora, not only were the zoot suits distinctive in style, but was "designed to be comfortable to dance in and signified the association with a gang" (1). The style soon spread among various ethnic groups, eventually spreading to the Mexican American youths. These suits were particularly worn by the poor and working-class youths. With the extensive use of material, it was considered to be a luxurious item and wearing one made the individual stand out. Certain stores, in fact, specialized in the production of these suits in Los Angeles. However, after the government announced the restriction on the amount of material that can be used, due to wartime efforts, the number of stores started to diminish (Daniels 207). The zoot suits were seen as a waste of material by the federal government, which...