What was the impact of the Great Depression on the lives of women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Indians?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The impact of the Great Depression on these minority groups (women are, of course, not a minority, but we can all them a minority as they were much less powerful than men at that time) was much like the impact on white men.  Typically, these minority groups suffered economic hardships just as white men did.  In some ways, though, the minorities were hurt even more than white men were.

When the Great Depression hit, minority groups were already worse off than white men.  Minorities tended to have jobs that paid less and were menial.  The racial minorities were typically poorer than white families were.  When the Depression hit, families of all races were hurt.  Men and women of all races lost jobs.  However, the non-white groups were starting from a lower level and were plunged into deeper poverty than white families were. 

In addition, racial minorities were typically treated worse than whites when the Depression hit.  African Americans and Latinos tended to lose their jobs more than whites did.  In some cases, these non-whites were pushed out of their jobs in favor of white men.  Because of these types of discrimination, the unemployment rates for non-white people were much higher than the rates for whites. When the New Deal was created, minorities were treated worse than whites were.  In many places, local officials worked to make sure that New Deal programs helped whites first. 

Latinos also faced a special kind of trouble in the Depression.  Many Latinos were not citizens of the United States and could therefore face deportation.  When the Depression hit, many whites wanted to get rid of as many Latinos as possible so that more jobs would be available for whites.  This led to widespread deportations.  The racism of the time also made it so that Latinos who were citizens could also be caught up in this wave.

In some ways, the Depression was not as hard on women as on men.  The jobs that were killed by the Depression were typically jobs like factory jobs—they were only filled by men at that time.  The number of women working outside the home actually rose during the Depression.  However, women were still negatively impacted by the Depression.  Women had to try to keep their families together as their husbands lost work.  Women had to endure the disapproval of society as many people felt that it was wrong for women to be working when men could not find jobs.  In these ways, women still had a hard time during the Depression even though they did not experience a drop in employment.

This subject is much more complex than can be dealt with in a short answer like this.  Please follow the links below for more detailed information.

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