Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Help

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The Help[Paperback]

At what point do we stop believing what we have been told and start figuring things out for ourselves?

I recently read the book The Help and it's one of the best books I have read in a very long time.  The story talks about what it’s like to be a black maid working for a white family in the early 60’s.  I don’t think I will ever be able to understand how some people believe others should be treated differently because of the color of their skin.  I think it is because I have such a hard time understanding this concept that I am drawn to this era.  I want to know more about the people who lived through this unique time, especially those who broke the rules!

I wanted to dislike the white women in the book.  They believed that they could get a disease from using the same toilet as a black person - that seems like nonsense now days.  The maids raised the white children, taught them right from wrong, potty trained them, and loved them as their own children.   Those same children would grow up and hire a black maid who would not be allowed to sit at the same table as them, drink from the same set of glasses as them, or use the same toilet.  It was a terrible cycle that just kept repeating itself. 

As much as I wanted to dislike those white women, I actually took a little pity on them.  They were raised in a culture that truly believed there were differences that went much deeper than skin color.  It's hard to be taught that one thing is right your entire life and then question that belief as you get older.  It would be like being told that the sky is actually orange when you have always believed it be blue.  It's hard to go against what you already know.  It needs to be done: we need to be challenged, but let's face the truth: most of us don't want to be the one that takes those first steps.

How many people sat in the back of the bus day after day never having the courage to make their mark in history like Rosa Parks did?  How many white people disagreed with the way blacks were being treated, yet were afraid to make their feelings public.  I imagine it was difficult and a little a lot scary to be the first one in your family/friends/church/group to say you were doubting what everyone else was doing.  Are you strong enough to be that person?

I read about crazy things like blacks not being allowed to use the same toilet as whites because they had different diseases and I think about how much things have changed - how far we've come.  If someone tried to convince me of that now I would look at them like they were crazy, but back then, for so many people, that was the truth as they knew it.  It makes me wonder what the world will be like in another 50 years.  What will kids read about on their computers in history class (books will be so old fashioned by then) and wonder how we could have ever believed the crazy things we do without thinking today. 

What are the things in my life I should be questioning? 

1 comment:

  1. You should question nothing because your momma taught you all the RIGHT things! lol... jk.... You are so right, where will we be (not literally) in 50 years?
    I remember the first time one of you kids saw the rotery dial phone at the church and didn't know how to use it... it had never occurred to me that you kids had never (since you were old enough to notice anyway) seen or used one of the phones that we were brought up using.

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