Critical Essay on Race, Police, and the Making of a Political Identity

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1144 Words
Date:  2022-10-04


Edward Escobar's book, "Race, Police and the Making of a Political Identity" (Escobar, 1999) brings about the relationship that exists in the American community around 1943 between the Mexicans and the Los Angeles Policing Department. From Edward's point of view, he tries to show how the police treated and viewed the Mexicans Americans, where they are characterized them as being criminals besides the way the police were treating them within their community. A great concern of this relation is demonstrated by Escobar through the main role the police played in suppression on labor unrest, the increasing connection between criminality and race as well as the changing public idea regarding Mexican American political activism (Escobar, 1999). From the book, Escobar explains how the negative antagonism developed because of anti-Mexican sentiment within the United States, which was adopted generally by the Los Angeles police department (Escobar, 1999). The racial discrimination that was experienced there led to increased awareness of Mexican American trapped criminals thereby, making them organize themselves into groups directly protesting actions laid with the Los Angeles police department. The antagonistic groups developed to tensions in American.

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Police Aggressiveness

Globally, police are supposed to protect citizen within a given state against attacks, theft, terrorism and many other social positive impacts towards their countries. However, according to Edward's book, "Race, Police, and the Making of a Political Identity" (Escobar, 1999) it is clear that police had abrasive practices on the Mexican American in the southwest of United States has evident through the widespread police violence; political interferences on Mexican American affairs; juveniles discrimination. All this is seen by a report done by the United States Civil Rights Commission based on Mexican American and the Administration of Justice in the southwest.

Ideally, there was high hostile misconduct from the police, which was majorly focused on the structural and attitudinal abusive nature of the police. In addition, the policing nature mostly can be blamed because of racial bias done by white officers for their gross actions. Moreover, the impact on criminality and ethnicity was more significant because most whites saw Mexicans has an inferior race. Furthermore, they were not also regarded by law enforcement, the government that is, the police included, and characteristically criminals as even the Las Angeles police department articulated the same (Escobar, 1999). There are sometimes in history where police acted as the willing hostages of the factory proprietors as well as the chambers of commerce to suppress labor unions, expressions of the working class views and the radical political activism. The police role, in this case, was all about having the arm of the status quo.

From my own viewpoint, I can say that the policing in American regarding maintain order can be taken metaphorically or literally. On a literal basis, one can think the police suspicious out of anything normal. The police are supposed to look out for people/ individuals wrongdoers. However, during the 19th century as seen from Edward's writing, police are seen as enforcing racial restrictions in terms of their mandate in maintaining law and order. It is evident to see police conducting interrogation on the Mexican American youths on a white neighborhood just because they are not "white" or belongs to the same race (Escobar, 1999). In such a scenario, the work of the police is undermined and there is no maintenance of law and order.

Zoot Suitors Success

Around June 1943, Los Angles had worst riots that wrenched the city apart. The whole incidence was provoked by the sensational newspaper story that was based on the public panic allegation on the widespread Mexican juvenile crime, the scores of American laborers along with the joined civilians (Escobar, 1999). In addition, the Los Angeles police roamed everywhere searching for young Chicanos and men wearing designed suits 'Zoot suits'. In case they were found, they have stripped off their clothes, harassed, beaten and left aimlessly on the streets. Many youths Mexican descent were arrested and as such, the riots brought out the relationship that existed between Los Angeles police department and Mexican Americans.

The idea of the Mexican American riot suiters achieved some sort of success even though it was unwittingly. From that symbolic suit protest, the Mexican American found some grip in terms of political prominence that no one would have imagined. Additionally, the fame cut across on both ways whereby the press, police and the public continuously viewed the Mexican youths as naturally criminal. Likewise, the idea of Mexican American oppression gave them a political influence that ended their explicit exclusion regarding discrimination. Furthermore, the success meant that the politicians, leaders, as well as the Los Angeles police, now were to consider having a potential response of the public whenever they are making a public decision on policies. A good example of this success is seen from the election of Edward Roybal that manifested the way whites and Mexican related in the society after the transformation (Escobar, 1999). Here, Edward Roybal championed for the articulation of Mexican American defending the rights through protesting for their grievances. The transformation made Mexicans have a better after war experience of sophistication and confidences that was exemplified with new political identity as well as political style thus, never being ignored racially.


The paper generally is intended to tell the reader about racial discrimination, the police department in Los Angeles and the make of political identity in the United States around the 19th century. The political identity ideally transformed the Mexican Americans in terms of their status quo and minorities within the broader community Southwest United States. Additionally, it helps those making decisions that enable them to sort out their antagonism between them and the Los Angeles police department. The society was also able to understand their grievances through the protest made thereby being able to be met. To racial discrimination is a matter that should be taken care because, without looking to it, there might be bias around and victimization of individuals. As seen from the book, the policing department was racial thereby it raised suspicions, which led to the violation of human rights instead of making law and order. In addition, the policing in America was streamlined after such riots that were experienced thus; police all over the world must act in accordance with laws of their land and safeguard humanity life. From my perspective of the book by Edward Escobar, is that, the book is empowering because it shows clearly how policing department has brought out the effect of race and as such lending the Mexican American to political identity for themselves and the entire community (Escobar, 1999). One is empowered to fight for their racial and political rights. Concisely, police around the world should always maintain law and order and not vice versa.


Escobar, E. J. (1999). Race, police, and the making of a political identity: Mexican Americans and the Los Angeles Police Department, 1900-1945. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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