In episode three of the series Latino Americans, discuss connections to economic disparities for Hispanics.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the strongest connections to emerge from the third episode of the series was that while sacrifice and national identity were paths that Latinos took to be a part of American society, prejudice and discrimination were still realities.  These elements helped to continue the economic disparities for Latino Americans.  They also helped to develop a narrative where the price they paid for American freedom in World War II did not necessarily result in those entitlements for themselves.  Latino soldiers were killed at Pearl Harbor. The first casualty on that day was Ensign Manuel Gonzalez, whose last words were "don't shoot— friendly," reflecting how his role as a pilot was threatened on that day.  It is a statement which is symbolic for the level of commitment that Latino soldiers displayed for America and yet received little of the reward for their endeavors. Another example would be the soldiers like East L.A.'s Guy Gabaldon, who "becomes a Marine Corp legend" with his endeavors. This is contrasted with groups of Latino youth that were disenfranchised in the Zoot Suit Riots of Southern California.  Hector Garcia was educated as a doctor, graduating from the University of Texas.  However, racial discrimination and prejudice prevented him from finding a hospital which would take him.  The episode talks about how Latinos like Garcia sacrificed for their country, not resenting the tremendous resistance towards opportunity demonstrated.  

This helps to enhance the narrative that develops throughout the episode. Latino Americans listened to the demands of leaders like President Roosevelt, who stressed that confidence in America was the only way to defeat the Axis powers.  Latinos followed the tenets of leadership.  They showed their willingness to fight for the nation. However, this very same nation refused to acknowledge such sacrifice, often treating Latinos to economic marginalization and social stigma.  Being Latino carried with it a reality of struggle that was not reflective of the amount of sacrifice that Latino Americans showed during the war years.  

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