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Help Yourself to The Help

It’s Me!



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Check out the trailer for the The Help!


“Sometimes courage skips a generation” The Help

The Wizard of Oz is on hiatus; he is not giving away courage like he used to and it is certainly not for sale. It is not as deeply rooted and instinctual across multiple generations in this day and age. It appears as if “the fight” is too tough, not worth the time of day, or too old to really matter anymore. But, how quickly am I reminded of why courage exists in the first place: to be a springboard for those with the will, but more importantly, to be a mirror to the vampire of fear.

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is your typical Hollywood green light. There is a plot, conflict, climax, and the happily ever after ending that a theater filled with movie goers anticipate.  The actresses are stellar! Viola Davis (Abilene) is nothing less that spectacular with the love and patience that only she has in creating the humanity in characters. Octavia Spencer (Minny), although she wins a lot of the crowd’s laughter, is remarkable in her timing but more memorable for a passion and conviction that most will find refreshingly courageous. Emma Stone (Skeeter) is curious and persistent just enough to keep from getting on my nerves and so I keep my fingers crossed for her throughout the movie. Each of the actresses in this movie performs her part well and I appreciate that, yet I remind myself that these are characters, nonetheless.  Never once do I expect this story to pay attention to the nuances that matter most to the domestic workers–the stories within the story–such as the importance of Medgar Evers to the people of Mississippi, the life of the maids after the alleged speculation of whom the stories in The Help are referring to become truth and reality, and that these domestic workers still have to live in a vicious society of hate. What I get from the movie is more than typical, however.

It is atypical that The Help is really an expose for the inexplicable cruelty and behavior white women have justifiably shown toward Black women, saving graces in charge of their homes, mothers to their children, and cooks in white women’s kitchens.  I know all too well how Black women have been the anchor in families in which they didn’t belong because my great and late grandmother, Mary Peoples, worked as a domestic all of my life. She worked as a domestic for a local radio station, WGH in Norfolk, VA, but she also worked for different families. I am most familiar with the Stringfellows, a white family that owned the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Daleville, AL. I wish terribly that my grandmother was here to express that she never saw herself as The Help, but rather an employee earning an honest wage to support herself and contribute to our family.  We missed my grandmother when she was out of the house, but we loved her even more when she was home because she belonged to us, no matter how much the Stringfellows felt like she was “their girl.”

My grandmother contributed wonderfully to our culture of cooking (sweet potato flap jacks) and to our development of being kind, good-loving people able to recognize mean-spiritedness, yet being able to rise above it through recognition of humanity.  Even when the Stringfellow’s daughter, Wendy, was calling my grandmother “Mary” and my grandmother was calling her, “Ms. Wendy” my grandmother always made it a point to teach her grandchildren to be better and more respectful when addressing adults. The children of these fictionalized white women of Stockett and even the real life women for whom these characters were inspired missed out considerably on the permanent love and continual lessons I had.

The Help exposes and confirms an irrational protection of a meaningless and superficial status White women have hidden behind for centuries through the help of racism and the KKK. This story asserts that there is a certain level of paranoia that has always consumed White women–why do we think lynching, police brutality, and false accusations as grounds for mob violence plagued America for so long? They certainly weren’t used by mobs of men looking to protect the honor of Black women going to work in White neighborhoods from being accosted by sexual predators on their way.

Go see The Help. See how mean and terribly incorrect racism makes a person so you don’t become one of them.  Watch for yourself how these Black women place their full beautiful lips against the skin of these White babies, yet the parents of these children advocate for separate restrooms for fear of catching diseases from these very same nurturing Black women that have infected their children with love.  Watch how humor is infused in the movie to cushion the blow of shame within this community of delusional house wives.  The bottom line is no one likes looking the truth in the eye. For most the realization is too raw, the reflection too scathing, and it becomes too tough to swallow.

Kathryn Stockett had done such a good job of exposing America to truth. And for that, you have courageously become The Help. You have assisted in a basic understanding of why tensions commonly arise between White and Black women. Hopefully, you have helped American culture in the understanding that being a mother is not just conceiving a child, but also learning to nurture that young person into a productive and kind adult. And lastly, through Hilly’s outrageous character, you have helped in our understanding that real change comes from knowing your elected officials in order to influence them in passing legislation to suit the needs of our communities.

Other reactions:



  1. Anonymous says:

    Good read, clearly stated and emphatically declared. I too came from grandparents who were domestics, and I’m sure this film skims over their truths. I think America needs a cold glass of water to the face, skin ripped raw to bare the truth of racism and injustice in this country. Unfortunately, we’re too afraid, all of us Black , White, Latino, Asian, etc…Fear is no excuse for inaction, and we shouldn’t allow it to be one.

  2. Winter53 says:

    Beautifully written; I couldn’t agree with you more. Man’s inhumanity toward his fellow-man is the biggest threat to liberty.

  3. Kirat says:

    I know that I am woman so my commenting on this is a liltte.. erm.. odd. I could not resist because I agree wholeheartedly with you. There is not enough serious discussion about what it means being a man in modern society. I do know that we are not alone in feeling this way. You should check out the blog: The Art of Manliness. It is a blog devoted to discussing what being a modern man means. It is a community of men and some women who feel exactly the same as you do.

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