Friday, October 21, 2011

But no one ever asked mammy how she felt about it.

But no one ever asked mammy 
how she felt about it.

I recently finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  The verdict:  I liked it.  However, I wasn't sure I would.  It came highly recommended by Sybil.  However, I read one person's opinion that referred to one of the main characters, Skeeter, as "weak... when she finally started dating" and I didn't think I could handle a southern-belle version of Bella Swan.  Well, Sybil's recommendation and the hype surrounding the film version won out, and I downloaded the book.

I finished reading The Help more than a week ago, and I planned to blog about it, but I never got around to it.  This morning, I was lying in bed finishing up the second season of Glee, watching the prom episode, and the result of Kurt Hummel winning prom queen provided the catalyst for me to finally write this post.

So Kurt was declared prom queen, and he fled the auditorium/gymnasium/wherever the prom was held in tears, pursued by his boyfriend, Blaine.  And this is what Kurt had to say:   "We thought that because no one was teasing us or beating us up that no one cared. Like some kind of progress had been made. But it's still the same ... All that hate, they were just afraid to say it out loud, so they did it by secret ballot."  It's a very touching scene of the show, and I recommend you head over to right now and watch it.

This scene with Kurt and his resulting sobs to Blaine made me think a statement that Mae Mobley makes to Aibileen on page 392 of The Help:  "Miss Taylor says kids that are colored can't go to  my school cause they're not smart enough."  This remark from a fictional child in 1964 to the woman who cared for her struck me like that proverbial ton of bricks.  1964.  In Mississippi.  I grew up in Florida, graduated from high school in 1994 (30 years after The Help is set), and remember being told very similar statements, in Sunday school of all places, as late as the early 1990s (a harsh reality to face, such bullshit was still institutionally passed on in America... how many years after the Civil Rights movement?).  Reading Mae Mobley's words in 2011 brought back a wave of memories I had repressed of the racist indoctrination I received growing up.  (By the way, the Sunday school teacher who pompously expounded on my intellectual superiority base on the lack of melanin in my skin, had a black dog named Ni**er and sons who trick-or-treated dressed as Klansmen in white robes.  Such fond memories of my home town!)  And being a fairly sensitive person, I really needed to discuss the feelings that were triggered by this.  I was surprised by my current naivete and a little shocked that the the same lies that were used to teach racism to children in the 1960s was still being used to teach racism to children in the 1990s.  My assumption is that the lies are still being propagated to children today.  (How's that for optimism?)  Since Sybil is the one who recommended to book to me in the first place, I went to her with my thoughts and emotions (I hate using that word).  And she said to me,  "It just goes to show you that despite all the progress we claim to have made, shit ain't changed."

Like Kurt said, "We thought that because no one was teasing us or beating us up that no one cared.  Like some kind of progress had been made.  But it's still the same."

The same.  Yeah, the hatred still abounds.

Below is a quote from one of today's online discussions about the recent death of Gaddafi and the reactions/comments of people from around the globe.

"Well, at least now i know that arab africans are called 'sand niggers'...oh, how developed is the west!"

Was that a vocabulary lesson she really needed to have?

It gets depressing.

Nobody likes to see a crazy lady with an axe in her hand.

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