Grace Lee Boggs


 As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now tells us, 

Grace Lee Boggs, the legendary 92-year-old civil rights activist, who has been pivotally involved with the civil rights, black power, labor, peace, environmental justice, Asian American and feminist movements.

And from Bill Moyer’s site:

Born in 1915 to Chinese immigrant parents, Boggs received her BA from Barnard College in 1935 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in 1940.

Boggs’ comments on Democracy now can be seen as continuing discussions about racism and sexism that have been occurring on this blog, perhaps particularly in the observations and references made in comments on an earlier post about Bob Herbert on misogyny. Violence toward women is not likely to be an isolatable problem, one whose causes reflect just what happens between individuals. How deeply does it reside in our values and practices? And what today is holding that in place?

 One can see Boggs as calling a discussion of just such issues:

And we don’t see how what we have done and the way that we have tried to be robust in our economic growth has created all these crises for the world. That’s why I like to start looking at the economy. How can we take advantage of this opportunity, this crisis, to reorder our priorities?

And it is clear that her conception of “reordering priorities” is not a trivial idea, for it is to be done in terms of Martin Luther King’s insights

what people don’t realize is at the end of his life, King was looking at our crisis, a profound spiritual and material crisis, and he said that we had advanced economic growth at the expense of community and of participation, that our works had become larger and we ourselves had become smaller.

Asked if she is worried that the US will increase its military activities because of concerns about the economy, she remarked:

this is a question of choice, we are not at the mercy of circumstances. We are human beings. We can become more purposeful. We can choose. We don’t have to go the way of empires. Or, going the way of empires, we don’t have to continue to go that way.

Of course the causes of violence against women have ancient roots, but it seems very likely that the crisis MLK saw also does.
Boggs says that she is optimistic. I’m less sure. I am not confident, for example, that our society, or at least the US, is prepared to address the issues. Nor does there seem to be a clear way to get us to do so.