Zoot Suit (film)

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Date: 1994

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Social/Economic Opinion, Violence, Language

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Luis Valdez

Confronting Bodies: Santana High School

Dates of Action: 1994

Location: Santee, California

Description of Artwork: The film describes the prejudice against Mexican Americans in Los Angeles during World War II. The film contains strong language and scenes of violence between U.S. servicemen and Mexican Americans.

The Incident: English teacher, Reiko Obata, decided to show Zoot Suit to her eleventh grade class to help counteract prejudice against Mexican Americans at the predominantley white school. Obata followed school policy for viewing an "R" rated movie by requesting permission from the parents of her students. However, school officials blocked the film's showing, citing that it did not relate to school subject matter.

Results of Incident: The school suspended Obata with pay for the remainder of the semester. After receiving 200 signatures requesting that the decision be reversed, the school decided to show Zoot Suit however no students attended.

Source: Artistic Expression Under Attack, 1995