the chicana o world war ii a betrayal of promises n.
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The Chicana/o, World War II & a Betrayal of Promises . Today’s Question:. How did World War II affect Mexican-American communities, families and help shape Chicana/o cultural resistance? . Main Focus. Racial relations during WWII Changed Gender dynamics in Chicano communities

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The Chicana/o, World War II & a Betrayal of Promises

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today s question
Today’s Question:

How did World War II affect Mexican-American communities, families and help shape Chicana/o cultural resistance?

main focus
Main Focus
  • Racial relations during WWII
  • Changed Gender dynamics in Chicano communities
  • & Mexican-American Labor and the rise of agri-business
background wwii 1941 1945
Background: WWII (1941 – 1945)

Axis Powers

(Hitler’s German Nazi regime allied with Japan)


Allies Power

(U.S., Great Britain, France)

  • Institutional Racism -- The belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance through institutions such as law, government, education, financial systems, etc...
  • Individual racism – the thoughts, feelings that conjure up stereotypes, prejudices towards a group of people.

* Individual racism is a product of institutional racism; institutional racism is perpetuated by individual racism.

mexican americans in wwii
Mexican-Americans in WWII
  • Avg. age – 17-21
  • Approx. 375,000 served in armed forces
  • As an ethnic group, earned more medals of honor than any group
chican@s in a strange racialized world
Chican@s in a strange [racialized] world...
  • Racism abroad
    • Guy Gabaldón and US Marines
    • Major Gabriel Navarrete and Company E
  • Racism at home
    • Sergeant Macario Garcia and Sugarland, TX
    • Sleepy Lagoon Trial
impact of wwii on the chicana o family
Impact of WWII on the Chicana/o Family
  • As a product of social context. (economic situation + absence of socio-mobility opportunities)
  • WWII helped influence and create the pachuco [gang] culture due to the....

“poverty and the lack of role models in the homes that resulted when the fathers and older brothers went off to the War” (p. 240).

What is the purpose of gangs?

Why do gangs exist?

sleepy lagoon trial
Sleepy Lagoon Trial

What happened on the evening of August 1, 1942?

Who was targeted against and by whom?

What was the outcome of the trial?

What did the media say about Pachucos?

How were the Pachucos portrayed?

What did LULAC say about the Sleep Lagoon Trial?

reversing gender roles
Reversing Gender Roles
  • As Chicano men were shipped to fight a rich man’s war, Mexican-American women “supported the war effort, making sacrifices and writing to their boyfriends, husbands, and fathers in the armed forces. They formed support groups throughout the country.” (p. 244)
  • War gave Chicanas economic opportunities, also weakened institutions of social control.
    • Spanish American Mothers and Wives Association
    • Susanas del SP
la chicana capitalism
La Chicana & Capitalism
  • Mexican-American women became wage earners in greater numbers, changing their worldview.
  • Many Chicanas also served in the armed forces and/or worked in war industries.
      • Susanas del SP
cold war politics of control
Cold War Politics of Control
  • Post-WW II US further boosted capitalist ego.
  • “The captains of industry acted as if they had won the war and equated worker demands with Communism, and extended the Cold War to unions” (p. 247)
  • In 1947, Congress passed Taft-Hartley Act – empowered employers and weakened the collective bargaining process.
    • Case study: The Bracero Program
the bracero
The Bracero
  • The Bracero Program established in 1942 was a “guest worker program”. It “exemplifies the beginning of a formalized system of labor exploitation supported by the United States and Mexican Governments.”
  • Prior to Bracero Program, the US had racially discriminated against other people for cheap labor: d
    • Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
    • Gentlemen's Agreement (1907)
    • Japanese Internment Camps (1941-end of WWII)

Compare this Bracero Legislation advertisement to a similar advertisement for labor during our African slavery (16-18th) in the United States. Similarities? Differences?

results of the bracero program
Results of the Bracero Program
  • Americans benefited from the exploitation of Mexican laborers.
  • The process created an open and vulnerable space where Mexican people were exposed:
    • Mistreatment
    • Forced to work under terrible conditions
    • Paid meager wages
  • In short, the Bracero Program was rationalized in the US to host an “exploitable guest”.
mexican perspective
  • Mexican young males left families and home nation in pursuit of economic survival in the US.
    • Mexican nationalists left the state of Mexico energy-less; without a strong male workforce, Mexico’s economy could not prosper.
  • Mexico/Mexicans did not benefit from the Bracero Program (1942-1954)

“Continued violations to the workers’ contracts and irregularities in the agents from the United States Employment Services (USES) are the main complaints that our Mexican laborers are filing. An example is how our workers are being forced under threats by a “tyrannical” government representative to sign contracts with specific companies. This is a violation of their contracts that stipulates that our workers are free to choose their employers.”

-- from the Mexican Viseconsul [sic] report written in 1952

(Luz Maria Gordillo, “The Bracero, the Wetback, and The Terrorist: Mexican Immigration, Legislation, and National Security”, p. 154)

end of bracero program
End of Bracero Program
  • In 1964 “as a result of the efforts of a civil rights coalition that protested against Mexican workers’ inhuman working conditions and the constant violation of their contracts as stipulated in the guidelines of the Bracero Program.” (155)
  • The End of the Bracero Program was followed by the 1965-Visa Limit Legislation, later re-incarnated as 1986’s Immigration Reform and Control Act, and later taken up by border towns under multiple ‘operations’.
post wwii reception
Post-WWII reception
  • Racism still remained in tact
    • Second class citizenship status via educational access, veterans access to equal rights and basic civil rights
  • American G.I. Forum was created and organized to combat the continued Anglo-Texan micro-aggressions.
    • Three Rivers, TX funeral home and refusal of Pvt. Felix Longoria
coming to reality
Coming to Reality

“One of the [most] racist, dominant culture’s most effective ideological strategies has been to educate us all—minorities and non-minorities—to the national myths of equality, democracy, and freedom for all. We are taught that these principles are attainable realities in the U.S. and furthermore, as minorities we wish that this were true.”

-- Laura Perez, “Opposition and the Education of Chicana/os”, 1993.

for thursday chuco culture
For Thursday: Chuco Culture
  • What did Pachuca/o culture represent?
  • What about the Pachuco/Pachuco that made it be considered such a threat to Anglo-American society?
  • What does Pachucas and Pachucos inform us about about cultural resistance today?
  • “Ultimately, the pachuca became both part and symbol of the changing ethnic landscape of WWII.” (p. 244)