Luis Valdez can be called a leading figure in Hispanic theater. Despite many successes, he has remained an innovator and a rebel. Valdez is the re-creator of Hispanic traditions. The book Zoot Suit and Other Plays contains three most popular and critically acclaimed Valdez’s plays. The first play is called Zoot Suit. It reveals the story of the infamous Pachuco Riots. The events happen during World War II in Los Angeles.
In Zoot Suit Valdez narrates the Sleepy Lagoon murder case. A lot of young Chicanos were sentenced to life in prison for the murder. Henry Reyna was one of them. He was accused of the murder of Jose Williams. The reason of such accusations was common for that time – the race. Henry was guilty of being born not with white skin. If there were some crimes, Latinos were the first to blame. The color of their skin was like a hallmark for white people. Even today, ethnic groups are being racially profiled for crimes only because of the color of their skin.
Henry was the one who wanted to break the vicious circle. He knew that he was innocent and wanted to prove it. At first, George Shearer, a lawyer, tried to help Henry. Unfortunately, George was sent to war. Later Alice, a reporter, fought for Henry. Throughout the play, she works to gain an acquittal of the charges. Together, they managed to prove that the color of skin was not evidence of guilt. As a result, the case was won. Henry’s struggle was not in vain. He succeeded in changing his fate for the best.
Luis Valdez’s work stands as a testament to the stereotyping and misrepresentation of Latino youth and their culture. He wrote about the experiences that were not put in the history books by white America.