Weaving for Justice

Weaving for Justice is a volunteer organization based in Las Cruces, New Mexico that assists Maya women weaving cooperatives in Chiapas, Mexico to sell their work in the U.S through fair trade. All proceeds go back to the weaver groups, enabling them to continue living with dignity on their ancestral lands instead of being forced to migrate.

My work with weavers in Chiapas started with my efforts in the late 1980s to help Tsobol Antsetik (Women United) sell their textiles in the U.S. I was still a graduate student and didn’t have many resources or much understanding about how to help them. Over the years we’ve learned together how to work in solidarity across the borders of language and culture. In 2016 at the inauguration of their first meeting house, I was moved when Flor de Margarita Pérez Pérez, founding member of the co-op, spoke about the seeds we planted together when I lived with her in 1987:

“Long ago you came to live with us. When we were hungry, you were hungry. When we didn’t sleep on good beds, you didn’t sleep on a good bed. When we walked in the mud, you walked in the mud. You left, but you always come back and bring your friends with you. You planted a seed of supporting women weavers.”

Margarita has taught both of her daughters, Claudia and Zenaida, how to weave and they are following in their mother’s footsteps. Zenaida is one of the three cooperative representatives. In this photo her mother is giving her guidance as she starts a weaving.

In June 2017, Claudia and Celia, another representative of Tsobol Antsetik, attended the annual meeting of Weave a Real Peace (WARP) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Claudia was moved by the warm welcome she received from the members of WARP and the delight with which women wore huipiles from Mexico. One day I recorded her on my iphone about how she feels when women from other countries wear the traditional blouse of women in her township, San Pedro Chenalhó.

“For us, we feel very comfortable when we see a foreigner wearing our blouse. We think that she isn’t an egotistic woman, that she doesn’t feel that she is better than us. I feel very happy to see that she also wears it on her body, that she has a good heart for us. We think that she is a good person, that she honors us, that she has great caring for us, that she gives us a lot of support.”

“A nosotras nos sentimos muy comodas cuando una extranjera pone nuestra blusa. Pensamos que ella no es una mujer egoista, o sea que no se siente tan alta como a nosotras. Me siento muy contenta a ver que ya tiene en su cuerpo tambien, como que tiene un corazon para nosotras. Pensamos que es buena gente, que tiene un gran honradez a nosotras, un gran cariño a nosotras, y un gran apoya para nosotras.”

For more information about Weaving for Justice go to www.weaving-for-justice.org

A chapter about my work with Tsobol Antsetik is included in the book, Artisans and Advocacy in the Global Market: Walking the Heart Path, under “Writings” on this webpage.