There was rampant racial tension during World War II in America, as exemplified by a number of incidents between the whites and people of the minority groups, including African Americans and Mexicans, among others.
The Sleepy Lagoon Trial was one such incident. Seventeen Mexican American youths were accused and shortly convicted of murdering a farm worker. The case was marred by racial prejudice from both the prosecution and the presiding judge. The situation earned sympathy for the defendants by the general public, and when the case came up for appeal, the conviction was overturned and defendants acquitted by the appellate court.
Another racial incident was the Zoot Suit Riots, where white soldiers, marines, and sailors attacked Mexican American youths identified by the “Zoot suit” style of dressing (high-waisted trousers worn with long coats). The white servicemen accused the Mexican American teenagers of being unpatriotic and displaying a high level of extravagance during wartime.