Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Receiving "Help" from Black Maids

My heart strings were pulled on as I watched The Help in 2011. This movie showed black maids, who later became known as "the help", who were faced with racism as they worked in white families homes. Here they did most everything for the families, including daily household chores and even raising their babies. Deep connections were made and these maids loved and cared for these children as if they were their own.

During the Civil Rights era (1962) a graduate student from the University of Mississippi, aspiring journalist "Skeeter" who was played by Emma Stone, decided to write a book with the help of two black maids (Aibileen and Minny) she had a relationship with to give their perspective on how they were treated and what they faced working for these white families.

The idea came to her after returning home and becoming curious of her white friends and her own mother, who had fired her childhood nanny while away at college (who was a black woman). Skeeter was disgusted with how they were being treated by her white friends.  She wanted to dig deeper into their "help" and write about their experience from their perspective.

These white woman treated these black maids unfair and very poor. They took it to the extreme by campaigning to create separate bathrooms after one woman had started rumors that black people carry diseases. The bathrooms the black maids could use could only be those that were "dingy, shabby and non-air conditioned." Under no circumstances were they allowed to use "white" toilets, and the white women took it very seriously marking the last square on the toilet paper roll when leaving the house.

This movie is incredibly inspiring. These woman worked hard taking care of these white families and spent most of their days raising and loving their own children. Despite the racism, they stuck together and pushed through the civil rights movement area. Black people and black communities are seen as deformed, incorporated, and inauthentic (Guins & Cruz, 2005).  These times were not easy and many white people were stuck in their hardened ways about black people. It was people like Skeeter and Ceila (white woman who married wealthy, but is in-need of friendship) who befriended these black woman. With them, doing it consciously or not, they took a stand for black people and were able to recognize that they were treated unfairly, poorly and with hatred and racism.

It seems so unfair that during this time, black people were treated as if they came from the "dirt". They were humans just was white people were.  However, they worked hard day in and day out to make a living for their own families and were handed nothing. They put up with the hatred and racism every day and grew to love their white children just as much as their own, after all they spent more time with them than they did their own.

Discussion Questions:
What do you think about this era and blacks receiving cultural criticism?  

Do you think this hatred and racism still exists today between whites and blacks?

In what ways have you seen or experienced unfair treatment against different races in popular culture? 

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