As I write this letter, I can’t help but feel like an imposter. Employed in fashion — the pulpit that promotes luxury, vanity, classism and consumption — my world would appear to be in diametric opposition to the PLP cause. I live and work in the industry’s capital, New York City (yes the devil does wear Prada). I have a front row seat to all the goings on behind the curtain — the anorexia, the egos, and the inflated salaries.
While it is the fruits of the seamstress’s labor (mostly women but a few are also men) being marketed, the budget for a day’s photo shoot dwarfs her yearly salary. She toils, in many countries including the U.S., often under illegal conditions. The immigrant/sweatshop worker will not be celebrated, much less invited to the downtown soiree to be toasted alongside the boss. Her sons and daughters will be extracted to go and fight this country’s “patriotic” wars, and possibly return maimed or in a box.
I’ve grown disillusioned and angry not only at this “world” but at myself — for subjecting myself to such a bloated and extravagant existence. Consciousness was always within me though — empathizing with people from different walks of life — but doing what I could and the efforts I found myself engaged in were not enough. A new approach to the problem from a different angle was needed.
I had the good fortune to be invited to a PLP study group. I was captivated by the discussion amongst these young people: racism as capitalism’s tool to divide and separate, war for oil, the U.S.’s class system — an especially taboo subject in today’s society.
Now I can’t deny that the working class is systematically kept down and controlled by the bosses. My resignation has been replaced by the question: “Is it possible to build this new Utopia, and if so, how could I make a difference?” I want to be a part of the hope and the action, on the front line.
One stormy evening I stood in solidarity with the Stella D’Oro workers who had been on strike for four months. I was inspired and awed by their commitment to stand for what they believed in, and the sacrifices made by the few for all.
As I wrestle with what it means to join PLP, its ideas and its struggle, as well as with my own struggles and contradictions, I am all the more empowered. I feel assured to be part of the collective standing steadfast committed to fight inequality, racism, classism, capitalism, and imperialism.
Part of the collective