From the Executive Director : Grace Lee Boggs Teaches Solidarity as Verb

Grace Lee Boggs

When I learned about the passing of activist intellectual Grace Lee Boggs, my first reaction was deep sadness. I kept repeating to my partner "It's so sad. It's so sad." Boggs, born in Rhode Island and raised in Queens, New York City, lived and breathed solidarity in cities including New York, Chicago, and Detroit - where she helped establish organizations centering black lives amidst a system that progressively made decisions to devalue those lives. Rooted both in her Chines-American identity and Marxist intellectual study, Boggs was one of the remaining "old heads" in the movement(s) for justice, challenging not just capitalism and how it works in the urban United States, but how non-profit organizing responds.

I was lucky enough to meet Grace Lee Boggs on one of my trips to Detroit and witness the powerful work she helped birth there. As I moved through my day after learning about her death, a day filled with the daily non-profit grind of seeking funding and working through interpersonal challenges, my sadness transformed into something more powerful : a reaffirmation of commitment to grounding the work we do at IDEPSCA in our base and what they need.

In my time at IDEPSCA, one of the things that makes us different, one of the things that makes us powerful, is that so many of our staff members, so many of our volunteers, are from the base. They are immigrants. They are self-educated and communally educated. They know what it is to look for work on street corners; what it is worry about police and immigration agents; what it is to worry about access to health insurance and food for your kids in schools that don't respond or respect roots and realities. Everyday I witness and am a part of amazing, if sometimes painful, learning and growth that comes from that learning. Most importantly, I can feel how this knowing translates into a living vision of solidarity that translates into action.

Solidarity is a verb. It's not about saying "poor day laborers" or "poor household workers". It's about shared work and processes that grow our understanding and ability to change our reality.

Workers from the four community job centers we operate, are an shining example of this commitment. Take for example the workers from the Harbor City Community Job Center, who hit the streets of Harbor City and Wilmington to clean them up because those are their streets too!

Grace Lee Boggs said "and we all have to change what we say, what we do, what we think, what we imagine."

Thank you Grace Lee Boggs and let us all change together.

-Maegan E. Ortiz, Interim Executive Director

Image via : YES! Magazine
Video : Luis Valentan - Day Labor Project Lead Outreach