She wants to lead the glamorous life!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Point of View...

Good Thursday morning to you!  While in the past couple of weeks, the plight of the SBF (single black female) has been the major topic on everyone's mind.  This week, I found myself discussing and debating the new movie The Help.  Our last post, so honestly written by Antoine Banks-Sullivan, was one view.  Here is another.  This is also written by a guest blogger, a friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, but was downright annoyed and outraged by the movie.  He admittedly has not read the book, but feels the movie is tasteless and insulting.  Like Antoine, he is African American, accomplished, loves literature and someone I enjoy listening to.  Read his thoughts.

The Help and Astute Student of Black Folklore and Fiction

“Minny did what?”

The true literary would understand that the surface messages shared in folklore must be taken totally in the proper context to understand the character’s true meaning.  Even if the author missed it, as she reveals the stories of the maids of Jackson, Mississippi, we who understand the culture know what Minny is really doing.  Miss Hilly had a phobia that Minny exploited.  The point she makes is that we can use separate toilets, remain subject to the scorning of bigots and worse, but maintain the upper hand.  Why?  Because as maids in the households, we are left alone with the children; we feed Missy and her entire family, and  we can put some real funky ‘crap’ in the mix at any time we choose.

Now as a son of the southern black family, I know without any doubt that no Christian black woman would ever violate the trust of the family she serves.  I also know that at various moments of frustration she would share conjecture with her friends that many horrible acts are possible.  And possible beyond reason.  She might share with all who would listen (even folk like Skeeter) that 'Missy made me so mad I wanted her to think that I contaminated her world'.  I feel you Minny.

I struggled to get over the obvious grossness of the act reported, but my literary sense of the true “BLACK” culture of that era  tells me that either the author was ill equipped to deal with the folklore that had been shared with her; or she simply made up a poor story in her ignorance. I kept waiting for Minny to tell her pals that she would never ever do such a thing but she wanted to leave the ‘insurance’ out there since it was working so well.  

I imagined the unveiling of this truth at a celebration luncheon.  I hear our heroine in a rich voice and character blurting out for all to hear….”Chile, that Minny is a mess! ”



  1. Hmm..You have trouble with the act? It was gross to me also. I also find myself wondering why I did not want to accept that the help could do something so gross to Miss Hilly. Why do we, after all the terrible things that were done during that time to our families, have a problem with Minny's revenge. We all talk about that part of the movie, but a civil rights leader was killed also by some of Miss Hilly's folks, we don't feel bad about that? Maybe if we had had a few more Minnys, slavery would have not lasted 400 years, and the civil rights movement would not have had so many senseless killings of our leaders, black and white. We feel uneasy about the wrong part of the movie. We should be talking about the lost of a leader and not Miss Hilly's greedy butt. I didn't like the movie so much because it makes me revisit a very dark time in our history. I want to stop looking back, but as they say, if we don't know our history we are doomed to repeat it.

  2. The message the writer wants to convey is that everything Miss Hilly said about the help, ended up being true (they were nasty and carried disease). The author in fact played into it whether on purpose or subconsciously by having Minnie do what she did. Plus, in the end *SPOILER ALERT* Miss Hilly had a wart on her lip, which was her fear in the first place. Our guest blogger is saying (what you see is a brief caption of his thoughts) that the author in an effort to show humanity, took the human-side away from the help by having them steal and be nasty (again what Miss Hilly said they'd do). Our guest blogger believes, and I have to say I now agree, that the author could have used the story to show that what made the help so honorable is that they would NEVER do such a thing. They took pride in their work and were too good for that. To your point, of course we all had trouble with the hurtful and harmful things done to Black folk during that era. That's a given. MJ

  3. OH, we must have forgotten that a whole race of people were "stolen" from their country, and the way we were "shipped" here was "nasty". The civil rights leader's life was "stolen". That we had families during slavery broken up because the children were "stolen" from his/her parent and sold. We were fed the "nasty" scraps of their food, all the unwanted meats, pig ears, feet, tail etc. In this movie the mothers were "stolen" from their children so that the parents could work long hours for the Miss Hilly. Did you miss the part of how Minny got to Miss Hilly? Minny worked for Miss Hilly's mother, and just like her mothers house, her mother's car, Minny was a part of her belongings. Let's look at both sides of this story. You can only get what you give. You give out shit, you will get shit in return. I am sorry that to stop Miss Hilly reign of terror, it took having her eat shit. I don't want to think of all the nasty things that cooks of that time did to blacks food when it was served out the back doors of diners. Why do we always have be nice? Why would we act like nice human beings when we are not treated as such? in history other races your enslaved, most failed the endurance test. The bible starts off talking about a race of people forced into slavery, they had to some pretty nasty things to their owner to be let free. Okay I gonna get off my soap box, it was just a movie and just leave it at that.

  4. Yes….

    The concern is not for Miss Hilly…

    …but for a people strong, powerful, moral, and devout. Yes a people who can hurt, bleed, laugh, cry and weave wondrous tales in folklore and testimony. I just want our story to be told correctly and with dignity. I have grown tired of the knee jerk reactions that artist apply to explain our actions. Develop us as whole characters with full dimensions of conflict and resolution. Could some one of us cross the Minny line? Perhaps…but why and how?

    The roller coaster of emotions we felt for Abilene’s struggle and overcoming, sifted through the killing of our leaders and the scolding of our mothers and grandmothers at the hand of the children they raised can raise our consciousness of ourselves and our legacy when treated fairly (if not delicately) and I am afraid Ms Stockett crossed the line with a foul play. It would take a whole lot more than a simple accusation and firing to bring our Christian and morally conscious mothers and grandmothers to such a fate. Those strong and powerful women learned to stand in the face of all manner of diversity
    While fiction does not specifically report actual events, we learn about each other when we read and view stories told by those who share their gifts. I am concerned for the reputation of my people portrayed in The Help and in all other media that makes Black folk the topic. Tell my stories; show my faces; explore my motives… I am not a caricature without feelings, reserve, or purpose. . I don’t accept that The Black Christian Woman that Minny was to depict would so easily become manipulated at the hand of a silly little post debutante upstart to turn her back on the judgment, character and faith that had so long held her together. This, especially in the face of a great movement that steadily lay claim to new frontiers and opportunities.

    Yes the Civil Rights Movement is a topic to be explored but The Help is a simple tale woven to explore a white woman’s struggle to find her voice. And yes, once again it would be through the nurturing of our mamas, sisters, aunts, and daughters. I freely lend the worth and valor of these heroic women to the author to tell this story but don’t kick my mama or slander her character in the process.

    *Anonymous Guest Blogger*