I rarely comment on books or movies because lots of other people have good ideas to share. I am making an exception because I think I have a little different comment on The Help as both a book and a movie. I read the book either before or shortly after we moved to the South. I really enjoyed the book, just like so many other did. I was still wearing my Northern Yankee views.
Since then I have studied much about the southern life style, Jim Crow laws, civil rights, slavery, the South, etc. Last week I finally saw the movie The Help. I think my reaction to it was a combination of seeing the story, instead of reading words, and my few years of living in South Carolina. The movie really made me squirm and the lives of the maids felt much more real to me than the book did. It was hard to watch.
One of the women, who is white, who was in my tarot card class was in her 20′s or so and lived in Jackson MS and she definitely remembers what life there was like and the segregation and we talked about the book.
As I talk to classmates in my southern history class or at other events, I learn that I am not the only northerner who had no clue what segregation was, how there were black and white restrooms, water fountains, bathrooms, two sets of schools, etc. until I took a trip to FL with my folks when I was about 10, which would have been 1960. Growing up in a little northern town of 300, which was and probably still is 100% white, I never saw anyone who wasn’t white. Our TV was black and white and when I saw the popular music groups, like the Supreme’s, it never occurred to me that they weren’t white. I know, that’s hard to understand but when you get a chance look at old black and white performance clips. I had no filter other than white people. It is still hard for me to believe that all the civil rights events that happened within my lifetime.
I’m so glad I now have a broader perspective and understanding of history and of that time in our history and the lives of all the people it affected and still continues to affect. I’m sure my experiences are still “sheltered” because while Greenville may be in a southern state, it is not your typical southern town, even for SC, much less MS, AL, Ga, etc.