Wide brimmed hats, broad-shouldered long coats, high-waisted pants,slick back duck tail, and a long dangling chains to put everything together.Knee high skirt, finger tip coat, and Teased hair that was lightened by peroxide.This was the wardrobe of a pachucos, young Latino and Latinas who lived in the barrios of Los Angles during the 40’s. Pachucos were always cleaned cut in full wardrobe and always dressed to impress. Young Latino men were never caught without there outfit even if they were on a date at the beach. “Zoot suiters were never caught out of there wardrobe, they even wore high-wasted pants to the beach” (Mazon 5). Pachucos were not about causing trouble or maintaining control of a city. They simply were about looking the best their best. However the media manipulated society and perceived pachucos as gangsters who were ruth less and chaotic.
During the 1940’s the masculine and feminine pachucos were know as zoot suiters. They were cleaned cut teenagers that were always clean cut and associate with jazz and the jitterbug dance craze that was sweeping the Los Angeles scene. Although many zoot suiters were Latino there were various races and ethnicity's that associated as a zoot suiter.
Mazon states, “During World War II, a period of social homogenization, enforced rationing, and increased class and physical mobility, the zoot suit emerged as a symbol of conspicuous consumption and working-class style in the United States”(20). On June 13, 1943 a number of sailors claimed to be mugged and robbed by zoot suiters.The following day a mob of sailors entered Los Angeles seeking revenge and began to beat up ever single zoot suitor they see. Authority figures turned away and let the riots play out on there own. Mazon states that the riots were simply an attack on zoot suitors, “after several days of rioting and assaults by servicemen, more than 150 had been injured and police had arrested and charged more than 500 Latino youths for "rioting" or "vagrancy," many themselves the victims”(21).
I believe the fear of the war and the stress lead to the spark of the zoot suit riots. There was no authority or action taking place while the riots were going on and after everything was all set and done service men were seen as heroes. The Los Angeles Times headlined "Zoot Suiters Learn Lesson in Fight with Servicemen" the day after the riots were put to an end.
The riots ended and youth were seen in a whole different way.“The zoot suit became a hallmark of juvenile delinquency, even though most of its wearers were not criminals or members of formal gangs. In particular it came to be associated with Mexican American and African American juvenile delinquency.” (Mazon 81)
The Zoot-Suit Riots the Psychology of Symbolic Annihilation
by Mauricio Mazon
Los Angeles Almanac
Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots (http://www.laalmanac.com/history/hi07t.htm)