"...I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s. I don't think it is something any white woman on the other end of a black woman's paycheck could ever truly understand. But trying to understand is vital to our humanity. In The Help there is one line that I truly prize:
'Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I thought.'"
From "Too Little Too Soon" - Kathryn Stockett's autobiographical insert to The Help.
I almost didn't write this post. I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying, which comes I suppose of not really knowing what I'm thinking. But I just read The Help for the second time, and watched the movie again. And there are all of these thoughts and questions spinning through my head. Thoughts that somehow seem important. So as I sort them out here, feel free to join my inner dialogue. I'd love to know I'm not the only one pondering things!
I'm assuming most everyone knows a little something about The Help (if not, click the link). This story has such a transcendental quality to it. It's set in a very real time and place, with real people struggles. Struggles I can't even imagine...though I know my Granny was raised by a maid, at least for a few years. (Which seems so odd to me.) But, this story is about lines that separate. Lines and rules that dictate how people can think, how they can act, who they can be. And that story arch is broad enough to encompass anyone who has ever been discriminated against, for any reason.
Somewhere along the way (I'm guessing Babel?), humanity felt the need to categorize itself into levels of humanity. Whether economics or religion is the catalyst, we've found ways to justify predetermining other people's lives. It happens across races, genders, orientations, languages, and religions. It happens in the work place, at home, in church, on the street. Some variable - some uniqueness that God installed as another facet of His glory - becomes the defining characteristic on which a hatred is grown. Grown and taught, and passed down for no other reason than it allows one human to feel more humanish, more deserving of rights and blessings, than another. And where logic might step in to point out the obvious (like if someone cooks every meal I eat, maybe their use of my bathroom facilities will in no way pose a greater danger to my health), carefully leveled lies are inserted to keep the balance of hate vs. freedom in tact.
And in the face of that insanity, it's the bravery of these women that astounds me - to speak up and say how things are. They didn't write a philosophy, or a thesis. They told their stories. Shared their life. Hoping and praying that their audience would be smart enough to see the injustice for what it was. And they did this in a time where speaking out was the most dangerous thing you could do.
I grew up in a strong, albeit, slightly transplanted, southern family. We do silence real well. We can bend our backs and press on like ugly on a possum, get through anything, but we ain't gonna say much about it. Even now, when I'm most upset, I have trouble putting words around my feelings, and saying anything out loud is physically painful. And to me, this voice is the most important part of this story. These women found a voice, while the world tried to convince them they were mute.
They found a voice, and they spoke the truth.
I might not ever have the chance to be part of as big a cause as the Civil Rights Movement. But I have a voice. And I can speak the truth.
And who knows, in fifty years, someone might be grateful for the words I chose to speak.