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United States had an active role in WWII. Because of this, it required the active participation of both men and women. American women, as well as minorities, got a chance to participate in the war in different ways: both men and women were recruited into the military (Fensch 130).
Back home, the remaining women worked in industries and contributed to the development of the economy. This paper will discuss how the war affected the condition of women and minorities. Specifically, the condition of women, African Americans, and Japanese Americans will be discussed. Japanese Americans will be included because the war involved Japan and US on opposing sides.
Women got skilled Jobs
A good number of women joined the workforce, mainly because of the war. These women were attracted to paid labor force not because they were patriotic, but they wanted to empower themselves economically given that their husbands were on the war front (Hixson 150). In other words, they had the sole responsibility of fending for their families. They worked in positions that were previously reserved for men alone. Some of these included constructing airplanes, building ships, and making ammunition in bullet factories.
African-American women were the biggest beneficiaries as they got a chance to work in skilled jobs. They were previously offered menial jobs such as farm work and domestic work. Women also significantly participated in the war, mainly by joining the army. They served on the battlefield as nurses, clerical workers, and even aviators. Previously, women had taken part in military efforts mainly as support staff assisting with sewing and cooking work but on temporary terms (Simon 29-33).
Not all minorities benefited a lot; some went through hard times (Fensch 130-132). For instance, Japanese Americans were targeted, hated, and some were even killed, particularly at Pearl Harbor. The remaining Japanese Americans were relocated to different camps in different states such as New Mexico. They left their homes, investments, jobs, farms, and even businesses suffering from economic loss and immense misery. The US feared being invaded by the Japanese (Hixson 150-153).
Change of Lifestyle amongst African Americans
Most of the African Americans relocated from the South to the cities in the North and west in search of jobs in war factories. They left their agricultural lifestyle to the city or urban lifestyle. Those who got jobs were also given good houses that previously were reserved for white workers (Hixson 154).
They derived much contentment from working in highly skilled positions in war factories. On the war front, it was not all rosy for African Americans as they were mistreated and racially abused. A good example is an incident that happened at the Chicago port (Hixson 150). They were forced into risky positions, and those who refused to obey were taken to military courts and judged harshly.
In conclusion, during the war, the conditions of women and minorities changed for the better and for worse to some. Whereas women seemed to be the group that benefited a lot, minority men were recruited into the forces where they went through hard times in the name of being patriotic. The financial position of women and status back home changed drastically. They were now just like their male counterparts contributing to the national cause as well as being breadwinners in their families.
Fensch, Thomas. World War Two: U.S. Military Plans for the Invasion of Japan, The Woodlands, Tex.: New Century Books, 2001. Print.
Hixson, Walter. The American Experience in World War II: The American People at War: Minorities and Women in the Second World War, New York, NY.: Taylor & Francis, 2003. Print.
Simon, Rita. Women in the Military, New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Publishers, 2001. Print.