Home Front of the United States during the Second World War
During the Second World War, the home front of the United States faced the number of challenges. Many poor people including Afro-Americans and Latino-Americans, as well as white people, could not bear the difficulties of war, and it caused the growth of aggression and racial tension among the population. While the war influenced the economy of the country, the tension among different layers of society tended to grow leading to massive riots.
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During the Second World War, the number of Mexican immigrants in Los-Angeles significantly increased. Mintz stated that “living conditions among the majority of these people are far below the general level of community” (160). They were involved in the defense production such as aircraft industry.
A large number of immigrants and their attitude caused prejudice among the white population who tried to make Latino-American follow the generally accepted rules, and it led to massive riots. Alvarez distinguishes some reasons for the riot, such as “discrimination, lack of recreational facilities, economics” (48). Still, many of the Mexican-origin riots belonged to the ‘panchuco’ culture associated with colored dress and provoking behavior.
It is stated that the authorities and publicity blamed the Latino-American population for the riots. Still, Boddy emphasized in his article that “the vast majority of local Mexicans are just as distressed over the unfortunate brawls as is any other section of our citizenship” (1). Thus, the main fault might be laid on the criminal youth of Latino-American origin whose clothes and behavior was challenging and caused discontent. Still, the white men involved in the riot acted inappropriately, too.
As the war production developed during the Second World War years, many black workers moved to Detroit to work there at the plants which converted to defense production. Thomas stated that before the war “the black employment in selected Detroit companies” amounted no more than eleven percent (157). The war caused the growth of the black population in the city and thus the growth of tension.
Furthermore, the black workers were not satisfied with the conditions of their work. For example, the black women stated that they are not “given the same opportunities for promotions that white women are given” (Michigan Chronicle 1). Thus, the black citizens were discriminated by their race, and it caused the further growth of tension which led to another massive riot.
The fault was both on black and white youth that behaved aggressively and started fights because of trifles. Many black people were killed, and it made the others even angrier. As some researchers state, “as the police sealed the ghetto and whites avoided it, rioters turned their attention to stores” (Capeci, Capeci Jr., and Wilkerson 4). Still, it is stated that there were a lot of gang members among the white rioters.
as little as 3 hours
Therefore, while the war influenced the economy of the country, the growing tension among different layers of society led to massive riots. A lot of people in the United States supported defeatist views long before the Perl Harbor defeat. They were tired of economic instability, and it made them intolerable which led to two massive riots in Los-Angeles and Detroit. These two cities bore the worst racial tensions, and it was predicted that they were susceptible to troubles.
Alvarez, Luis. The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance during World War II. University of California Press, 2008.
Boddy, Manchester. “Views on the News, by Manchester Boddy.” Los-Angeles Daily News, 1943, p. 1.
Capeci, Dominic J., Capeci Jr., and Wilkerson, Martha. Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943. University of Mississippi Press, 1991.
Mintz, Steven. Mexican-American Voices: A Documentary Reader. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
Michigan Chronicle, 1943, p.1.
Thomas, Richard W. Life for Us Is What We Make It. Indiana University Press, 1992.