"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Home Help Sanitation Initiative"

Makes me want to smack, "Two Slice Hilly" in the mouth. Yeah, I said it.
Yes, I realize that 'The Help' was written by a white woman and is a (fictional) book giving the perspective of black, domestic workers in the south in 1963. (Also, if you haven't read the book, you should, but the 'Home Help Sanitation Initiative' is the brain-child on crack of the Junior League President herself, Hilly Holbrook, in which she not so chalantly (not a word) suggests that black woman 'the help' be constructed bathrooms or outhouses at the homes they work in, and not use the waterclosets in the home because they 'carry different diseases.' Gahhhh!). So, as I was saying, the book is written by a white woman, and there are some critics of that. I almost don't feel like I can even get in on that discussion because, really, I'm a white woman that adopted a black child. Just seems like I should keep my mouth shut all together on the subject, because I'll come out of the discussion a loser either way...

HERE is just one of the articles that I've recently read on all that is wrong with, "The Help." Also, I recently listened to THIS in which Viola Davis remarks on her experience deciding to play one of the main characters. What I can't help but think... at least we are having these discussions amongst friends, movie companions, in the media, book clubs, etc. Sure, the book got some things wrong and skipped right over details that were reportedly major problems for domestic workers in the civil-rights era, including sexual harassment.exploitation from their male employers. Yet, until I read this book (and watched the movie), I never considered THE FEAR that these amazing women struggled with every day. Fear of retribution, fear of their own safety and fear for their children, fear of falling in love with the white children in their charge, and teaching them, and then being employed by them. I could go on. I didn't live in the civil rights era, and I never sat down for 400+pages to really think through what life must have been like for a black, domestic worker. Now, I have at least one piece of the puzzle, even if it is from a fictional book, and it spurred me to read the criticisms and add in other pieces of the puzzle. So, I guess I lied...I chimed in... for me, as a white woman, with a black child, I think I got some things out of reading this book about black women written by a white woman. AND I CRIED AT THE MOVIE. It was GOOD. I just want to spend an afternoon with Mae Mobley!!!! I want to be BFF's with Minnie... and I already have a friend that might as well change her name to Celia Foote. I might just start calling her that...

So, did you read the book or see the movie? Let me know your thoughts. You can even tell me if you think I'm an idiot. Just do it nicely. You can even use my method when I have to give someone not so kind news (usually work related). Compliment me, then give me constructive criticism, then compliment me again. This way, I'm so confused, I don't realize that you really think I'm an idiot, but I can consider the criticism. 

**Thanks to the ladies that went with me to the movie! I've been wanting to see it since it came out!!!!!


Dustin & Megan said...

That is so funny! I actually was just thinking about that movie (didn't read the book yet) and came across your blog post. I personally LOVED the movie! I thought it was fantastic. While it may not have been completely accurate I do think that it opened some people's eyes to things they may have never ever thought about before. I cried quite a bit during the movie, it was one of those really great, horrible, fantastic, awful sort of movies. Great and fantastic because it was a good movie but horrible and awful because of what happened to the women in it and that it made me cry so much. Overall I liked it :) So you have another friend on your side.

Lori said...

I was crying right next to you, Lindsey! I haven't read the book yet, but seeing the movie makes me want to read it. These women were admirable. I can't imagine just standing there quietly and saying, "Yes, Ma'am" to such injustices like they did.

Tamara B said...

wow. just saw it today. It was encouraging yet made my stomach turn all at the same time. I love the end where the mom praises her daughter's bravery.

Also loved the pics of cupcakes bday! When you're done cacooning, I think it's time for an Iowa gathering... and by then I should be recently back from Ethiopia and eager to share with everyone (and maybe cry some too).

your friend to the North,
tamara b


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