Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Impressions of The Help

I saw The Help yesterday. The overwhelming I've had is anger followed by disbelieve and horror. The reviews of this movie seem to imply that it is a feel good movie. To me, it just showed the hateful and willful ignorance of bigots. It also showed how a group mentality can very easily take hold. When some dared to to speak out against the horrible laws, they were murdered. Mississippi has a long, bloody history against those who try to uphold justice. No, this wasn't a feel good movie at all. It brought home to me in a way that reading of the murder of Edgar Mevers and the murders of Civil Rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwermer, and James Chaney never could.

It is the insidious and relentless message hammered home that you don't speak out against the injustice of the Jim Crow laws and the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission.

One scene that made me so damn angry was Minnie, one of the help, had to use the bathroom . It was very stormy. The old white woman was okay with her using the toilet inside but her daughter, Hilly, totally freaked out and wanted the maid to go outside and use the toilet built especially for the help. But her mother told Minnie it was okay to use the inside toilet. When Hilly realized Minnie has used the inside toilet, she fired her.

I don't know why this one shred of lack of human decency made me so angry. Perhaps it was the buildup to the scene. Hilly, the one who said no to Minnie, was trying to get new legislation passed that special toilets would have to be built for the help. It is the piecemeal by piecemeal taking away of a person's dignity that is so troublesome.

It is also the hive mind that such actions possible that gets to me. It is the inability to see someone as person and keep heaping on degradation after degradation.

Governor Barbour may think that the White Citizens Council was benign but it wasn't. The whole purpose of these laws were to further degrade blacks and to punish whites who seemed to be too friendly.

This cartoon was published by the Mississippi Citizens' Council. Click on the link and see if the cartoon doesn't remind you of some of the arguments we are hearing today. Let me know what you think.

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