No More Sweatshops
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Made in LASpread the Word

Northen CA Screening Leads to Student Action!

Last January I traveled with Lupe (one of the women in Made in L.A.) to show the film at the Castilleja School, an all-girl 6-12 school in Palo Alto, CA. It was an electrifying experience, and very moving for us and for them. In the little video we just posted on our Youtube channel, you can see the audience's reaction, including the standing ovation they gave us at the end -the organizers later explained they had never seen something like this before, and they've had superstar guests in the past, including Al Gore and Madeleine Albright!


Some days later, I got an e-mail from one of the students, age 13, named Malaika, She wanted to create a club in her school to help support issues in the film. Lupe had mentioned the girls' uniforms during the presentation, and I told her that the best way to help was to work towards sweatfree apparel in her school. And she did. She sent me these words for the blog, as well as a copy of the letter that the students sent to the school administration. Read on as you see a young organizer emerging:

"I saw Made in L.A. as part of my school's Global Week. As I watched the film I remember wondering: who had made my sweatshirt? And what about my powder blue uniform skirt? Where was that from?

Lupe talking to some students after the screening

The film takes us to the heart of the L.A. Fashion District where we are introduced to three women working in sweatshops to feed their families on a day-to-day basis. The most upsetting aspect though, was that for many of us this was something we had never considered. The idea that a starving woman had sat up late into the night sewing my skirt seemed almost unreal to me. Yet, for someone, somewhere, this was their reality.

The whole experience was very emotional for me. There I was, a thirteen-year-old, freshman, in Palo Alto, California and for the first time I felt utterly and completely helpless. I am so used to being able to voice my opinion when I don't agree with something, and to keep pushing until someone finally gives in. But this time, there was nothing I could do to help. Or so I thought.

The movie ended, and I left the auditorium, in tears, to go to lunch. My advisor, Ms. Spanier, noticed my red eyes and pulled me aside. "What's wrong?", she asked, concerned by how upset I was. I told her about this movie I had just seen, and how distressed I felt by the conditions these women had to work under. Ms. Spanier... then told me about the potential to make change. She encouraged me to start a group and raise awareness.

Today, I will attend my fourth Sweatshop meeting. We will be composing a letter to the administration at school, asking them to switch our uniform manufacturer to a fair trade one. Made in L.A. opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed. It gave me the potential to make a difference, and to encourage others to do so as well. It has opened doors to a cause I am passionate about, and one that I will pursue until working conditions begin to change."


We thank the Castilleja school for bringing us to the school, for helping us show part of the event to the world by sharing their recording of it, and for encouraging Malaika and her fellow students to start this club and effect change on campus!



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