Saturday night I went out with some friends. It has been so long since I’ve done that. Wow!
We watched The Help, a movie that examines the perspective of the black housemaids of that era. When given a voice through the bravery of “Miss Skeeter” to write their stories down, they do—in an act of rebellion? Maybe In an act that would state they were free? Possibly. Or maybe as an act to be brave and courageous as the blacks of that era marched through the dangerous and treacherous tunnel pushing forward to Civil Rights.
There was much to laugh at. Much. The acting was exceptionally good–each actor seemed to fit their roll perfectly. We chuckled throughout the movie, and we howled with laughter when Minnie (one of the maids) served the Mistress that had fired her a chocolate cake. A special chocolate cake. I’ll not spoil it here.
But there was solemnity underneath the laughs and the guffaws. Underneath it all lay the tension, the appalling reality of how wrongly some were treated–some were treated no better than slaves.
The movie appealed to the core of me because they used words to fight back. Written and spoken words…..all recorded and thought through carefully. They wrote their stories. They wrote and wrote and wrote. Their stories.
And through writing, they purchased something for themselves that I don’t think the characters realized early on in the project. They purchased–by the telling of their stories; their perspective on their jobs–they gained confidence. They gained an inner freedom.
Amalie, one of the maids would love the little white girl every morning, take her chubby little hands and say:
You is kind. You is smart. And You is special.
I think the author of this book brings that picture full around for the Help, because with the publishing of their book, though not in the movie script itself, I can imagine each of those contributing maids being able to say about themselves:
I am kind. I am smart. And I am special.