Thursday, October 01, 2009

U.S. History: Made in L.A.

The video I'm showing (part of it, anyway) to my U.S. History classes right now is called Made in L.A. It highlights the struggle of immigrant laborers against the company Forever 21.  I came across this video a couple of years ago.  It was on PBS (yes students, some people actually watch PBS!) and I found it to be poignant and shocking.  Sadly, I almost expect there to be labor abuses in other countries around the world.  But workers being underpaid and abused here in the United States?  In California?  In Los Angeles, just a few miles from where I used to live?  Hard to believe, yet true.

There are scenes in the video from places I am very familiar with in L.A., including my beloved UCLA.  One of my favorite scenes is when the workers go to the Forever 21 store at the Beverly Center shopping mall and talk about how little they got paid to make some of the garments in the windows.  I like showing the film to my students because I think it opens their eyes a little bit to the struggle that many people face here in America and also brings the laborer's struggle that we discuss in the early 1900s up to the present time.  There are some thought-provoking issues and even though the majority of the film has English subtitles, students do a great job of paying attention.  Check out the website for the film.

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