Like it or not, ‘The Help’ is the talk of the interwebs. Some folks love it, many folks hate it, others just don’t know what the big deal is.
In case you have yet to read the Association of Black Women Historian’s beautiful, eloquent and concise statement on why ‘The Help’ is problematic, faux-Civil Rights history, you should check it out here (Zora Walker also posted it to Tumblr, for your reblogging ease and pleasure). Reblog, repost, re-Facebook the statement EVERYWHERE. They are the experts. They paid their dues. They know what they are talking about.
But let’s say you still don’t see what the big deal is–or you loved the book/movie and you just want to be well informed on all perspectives. Or you just need help understanding the whole history. Never fear! Zora Walker has your back. Click away and get your mind right. Then decide for yourself how you feel about Stockett’s work.
#MacheteBehavior after the jump:
- Tera W. Hunter, “Domination and Resistance : The Politics of Wage Household Labor in New South Atlanta.” Labor History, no. 1991 (1990): 205-221.
- Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe : An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism 17, no. 2 (1987): 64–81.
- Lorraine O Grady, “Olympia’s Maide: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity,” in 1(1), The Feminism and Cultural Reader (1994).
- Darlene Clark Hine, “Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women in the Middle West,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 14, no. 4 (1989): 912–920.
- Jacqueline Jones, “Race and Gender in Modern America,” Reviews in American History 26, no. 1 (1998): 220-238.
- Elizabeth Clark-Lewis and Mary Johnson Sprow. “Duty and ‘Fast Living’: The Diary of Mary Johnson Sprow, Domestic Worker.” Washington History 5, no. 1 (April 1, 1993): 46-65.
I will also be sharing the clippings from my Kindle copy of Thavolia Glymph’s Out of the House of Bondage on Twitter as I read it. I’ve already shared a few but that was many months back. Time for a reboot. You can follow along at your leisure.
If anyone is interested in discussing these or other works on Tumblr or on Twitter with me, @ me @KismetNunez. I’m all in. Call me a Duboisian, but I believe education is the best remedy.
As for ‘The Help’ itself, well…hmmph. I’m reading the book and am in search of an e-copy of the movie (no I will not be paying either Stockett or her fellow white Mississippian director a dime or a dollar for access to both). I am reading/watching ONLY to be well-informed in any discussion that comes up. This is also why I am providing the material above. It behooves you to fully school yourself before you get into blanket Yays or Nays about the work (and I suggest you do the same and find your own free copies as well).
But I’ma tell you this right now. Before you even remotely come at me with how ‘The Help’ (book or movie) is anything less than a butchering of the history of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers and enslaved foremothers, you’d betta had read four of six of the tales above.
Because there is nothing uglier to our ancestors than an ignorant defense of white racism & privilege. Because even if you end up deciding that you like ‘The Help,’ there is no excuse for defending it in ignorance.
If you have readings that aren’t on this list, the ABWH list, or the list Melissa Harris-Perry was tweeting out late last week (see either my or her back tweets for references, I think I retweeted all of them) and you want to put ME on game, please do. Those are the best references I’ve seen but I’m sure there are bibliographies floating all around the web. I welcome more suggestions. All the better if you have a spare e-copy you want to slip my way (kismet nunez at gmail dot com).
I’d especially love pieces related to how society, the academy or the mainstream WRITES about black women’s lives, the provenance of white writers writing on black women, black women’s battle just to get their own works published, etc.
While you marinate, I’m going to go curl up with one of these articles and remind myself how amazing, how dynamic, how fierce black women are.