Dr. Rosetta Haynes
English 239, Sec. 10
17 April 2014
Racism and the Press
The author of Zoot Suit and the first Chicano play on Broadway, Luis Valdez, does a tremendous job of showing so many different aspects that aided in the false convictions of young Mexican-Americans. This is strongly shown through the many portrayals of racism and false representations of the press. Furthermore, since the story occurred during the 1940’s there was nowhere near the kind media and press coverage that there is today. Ultimately, this allowed the press to easily begin fanning the flame of racial tension between Mexican-Americans and White-Americans.
There were countless portrayals of racism throughout the story of Henry Reyna and the zoot suiters. Police officers in present day are most often thought of as people who should not take a specific enthnicity’s side. Even though this is not always the case, it is nowhere nearly as bad as in previous years. In this case, the Los Angeles police were a large factor in the acts of racism. The police had no evidence that the young Mexican-American who was murdered was killed by another Mexican-American. Even so, only Mexican-American kids were rounded up and questioned.
This act by the police shows that racism and prejudice against the “zoot suiters” was present. If Henry Reyna or any other member of their gang wasn’t wearing a zoot suit or was Caucasian, the police most likely wouldn’t even have questioned them. Instead, the Los Angeles police use Henry Reyna as a scapegoat.
This prejudicial act against young Mexican-Americans also simultaneously led to riots. These riots occurred in downtown Los Angeles in which Marines and Navy men got involved in fighting with the young men. These military men weren’t prosecuted to the same extent to which the young men with zoot suits were. Furthermore, the violence worsened as the sailors would also strip these young men of their suits and would burn them in...