Thursday, July 24, 2014


A serious "tour de force" of a documentary about Grace Lee Boggs is currently available on PBS's "American Revolutionary" feature films online. Thanks to Melissa Ip for posting this on facebook.

This is an amazing piece of documentary film highlighting the life and times of Grace Lee Boggs who at 99 years old doesn't seem to skip a beat. Born in 1915 to Toishanese immigrants from China, she is a philosopher, writer, and activist infamous for becoming a figurehead entrenched in the civil rights and mainly Black Power movements of Detroit.

In her lifetime, and many of our grandparent's lifetimes, she has witnessed and lived through a tumultuous existence riddled with rebellion, change, and struggle. In my own life, I would be so lucky to become as eloquent, passionate, and wise. As a Taiwanese/Chinese American female, who's Chinese immigrant side also comes from Toishan, it is incredible to have someone like her to look up to as an "American revolutionary". And clearly not just by me but a revolutionary to hundreds of thousands of others. Beyond race, it's about being privileged enough to examine someone else's personal revolution with how they were and are able to continually discover and redefine themselves within shifting institutionalized and societal parameters of inferiority and power. A Chinese American woman gaining a PHD in 1940 ( at the tail end of the Great Depression) and still not being able to find a job because she was Oriental was only the tip of her "outsider" struggle iceberg.

From what I understand the Asian filmmaker who undertook this Grace Lee Boggs project originally listed one of her reasons in doing so as a way to challenge the notion or stereotype of passiveness in Asian American women. Clearly, Grace Lee Boggs ate that assumption for breakfast the day she was born. She is such a powerhouse of defiant traits extrapolated by her later political associations, not just for a "Chinese" person, a woman, and a Chinese woman born in America so fucking long ago she's practically 100! She is basically birthday year twins with"Birth of a Nation" which premiered in Los Angeles also in 1915.

Ultimately, Grace Lee Boggs is a special anomaly who has excelled at understanding the world around her. Seemingly motivated by her own sense of obligation to addressing and questioning her surrounding social injustices which were largely intellectualized and guided by her obsession with conversation, dialogue, and philosophical inquiries which I believe were able to flourish due to her American upbringing and education. What does it mean to be an American? All I know is that everyone has their own story but somehow I've always felt lucky that I've never had to consciously approach my own life and ever think I couldn't be anything I wanted to be. So to know someone close to my grandmother's age who was afforded an education the way she did starkly contrasts to my own Toishanese grandmother's life who largely remained uneducated.

We are all really lucky to be able to have people like Grace Lee Boggs ready and willing to share her lifetime of wisdoms and ideas with the rest of the world. In this technologically driven world where false idols and unattainable and unrealistic luxuries and lifestyles remain the glorified status quo, let's never forget to pay respects to the people that have come before us and the movements that have given us the tools to reason for ourselves.

""Rebellion is an outburst of anger but it's not revolution. Revolution is evolution towards something much grander in terms of what it means to be a human being"- Grace Lee Boggs .. ala documentary..

Wednesday, July 23, 2014