Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Elbows Up, Side to Side - The Gangster

The origin of the “gangster stereotype” of Latino men easily dates back to the period of World War II. In 1942, the term “pachuchos” was introduced to the United States (1). Pachuchos were Latino rebels and thugs involved in gangs. Viewed as menaces to society, they were blamed for every problem that occurred. For this reason, police targeted “pachuchos” specifically. Zoot suits, which were extremely baggy, boldly colored, and often times accompanied by a hat, became popular among these men in addition to other minorities. Because constructing one takes a lot of cloth, the men who wore them were seen as unpatriotic, especially due to the terrible economy of the United States from the war (1). Unfortunately, the label that every Latino man is a “pachucho” lived on. Consequently, numerous Americans continue to see all Latino men in this negative light today, more than 60 years later.

Latino men, in particular, are constantly associated with crime and poverty. The media wrongly overrepresents Latinos as criminals and drug addicts. Recent studies show that only one percent of the stories aired on the news each year have topics that in some way connect with Latino/as (2). Furthermore, about 80% of these accounts depict Latino/as in a negative manner (3). Most of the time, the issues discussed are about Latino men in regards to crime, drugs, and being illegal immigrants. The United States has overcome so much racism from the past. Yet, this statistic is simply pathetic and shows that as a nation we still have a long way to go in order to beat discrimination completely.
1 Dr. Anthony Mora's Lecture: Latinos and Latinas in WWII, October 21, 2009
2 Serafín Méndez-Méndez; Diane Alverio (December, 2003). "Network Brownout 2003: The Portrayal of Latinos in Network Television News, 2002." National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
3 Cohen, Jeff (1999-10-01). "Racism and Mainstream Media". Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. Retrieved 2008-06-04.

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