Mexican-American's Contributions to the War
I am Jose, and I was an Mexican-American worker during World War II. Before the war there was the Bracero program that brought over Mexican laborers to America to help with war production shortages. During the war, other braceros and I worked in agricultural areas in the Southwest and West Coast. We worked long hours for low wages in dangerous and difficult jobs that took me away from spending time with my family. After the war, the G.I bill was passed and it opened more opportunity for education, so I and other Mexican workers began to go to college. Railroad workers, though, were required to return back to Mexico.
Prejudice During the War
We also were facing intense prejudice during these times. A man from Emporia, Kansas, Ambrose Lopez said, "we weren't allowed to go to a certain part of the movie houses. We had to sit in a certain part..apart from the white people." Another woman who lived there, Louis Silva said, "there was a lot of prejudice. You couldn't go to a lot of places to eat, and if you liked to go a bar, you had to go in the back, you know, and drink a beer in the back part of the bar. You couldn't sit in front." So what did not change was the prejudice and violence Hispanic people were still facing. The Zoot-Suit Riots was where when white servicemen and civilians attacked and stripped youths who are were wearing zoot suits because the outfits weren't considered patriotic and they were too extravagant. Al Waxman, who wrote for the Eastside Journal, said this about the riots, "At Twelfth and Central I came upon a scene that will long live in my memory. Police were swinging clubs and servicemen were fighting with civilians. Wholesale arrests were being made by the officers." Though there was still a lot of prejudice and violence, people were starting to stand up for their rights and Hispanics and Mexican-Americans were starting to get jobs and feel like they belonged in America and that is what changed after the war.
The Zoot-Suit Riots (http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2015/11/ask-zoot-suit-riots-LOC-E.jpeg)