September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Visions, Inc. executive director Dr. Valerie Batts has written a straight forward and balanced view of The Help that I wanted to share. The link is http://myemail.constantcontact.com/VISIONS–In-Our-Opinion–THE-HELP.html?soid=1102645492743&aid=eKJMe45QUvE#fblike. Visions provides consulting and training in diversity and inclusion. The article was forwarded to me via Coming To The Table, http://www.comingtothetable.org/, a program that is addressing the legacy of slavery in the US through stories related to slavery’s legacies under the topics of history, healing, connecting and action. Coming to the Table members are descendants of enslaved people and slaveowners from the same plantation property before the Civil War. The orgainzation was launched when people whose ancestors were connected through an enslaved/enslaver relationship realized they had a shared story that remained untold. Today, they and many others believe that the legacies and aftermath of slavery impact our nation in seen and unseen ways and they are committed to writing and telling a new story about our nation’s past and the promise of our collective future.
Also see www.sharedhistory.org, my own story of descendants coming together at Woodlands Plantation in South Carolina.
September 15, 2011 § 4 Comments
THE HELP: A “Satan Sandwich?”
I read the book The Help last year and have seen the movie now twice. I’ve read at least 13 film reviews (from the New York Times and the Rolling Stone to the Christian Science Monitor and the Hollywood Reporter) as well as several academic responses (see the rather strident statement from the Association of Black Women Historians at http://www.abwh.org/ ) and innumerable comments from bloggers. From a term used recently by Representative Emanuel Cleaver regarding the August debt deal, it seems that The Help has created a “satan sandwich” of its own.
Despite all of the laments about stereotypes and the question about whether whites can write about black experience (check out the 1921 Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Peterkin at http://www.virginia.edu/woodson/courses/hius324/peterkin.html) and the creation of two new magical negro characters (see The Rumpus blog below for an illuminating description), I decided I like “The Help.” I appreciate the struggle of the director to create a film on the subject of “help” in the 1960s. It would be controversial from any point of view. I’ve been looking at the issues of the impact of African American domestics on the white children they raised in the blog at www.justlikefamily.wordpress.com. I hope to open discussion about this complex and sometimes perplexing relationship and invite the biological children of the domestics to weigh in on what it was like to have their mother raise white children. « Read the rest of this entry »