“The Help” became the number one film in the country and has been acclaimed by critics, despite the controversy that’s been sparked in the Black community. Why has this project drawn such a negative reaction?
Very few movies with African-American stars are released to the masses, and many were upset that one of the few films targeting the Black community was about maids. Not everyone who has criticized this film has actually seen it–they seem to have been turned off solely by the subject matter.
To be outraged or offended by this movie simply because it spotlights Black women working as maids in the south during the Civil Rights era is crazy, because this movie should be received as empowering. Here’s why…
Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) may not have had a high status since they were both employed as maids, but both characters had a silent strength that became more intense and more visible throughout the film.
Black women are the backbone of the Black family, and so were the maids portrayed in “The Help.” In addition to having to make sacrifices for their families, they had to endure indignities at work, and in Minny’s case, at home as well.
In addition to having the love to show their own friends and family, Aibileen and Minny loved the White children they raised deeply–sometimes even more so than their biological parents. In addition, experiencing racism didn’t stop them from opening their hearts to all White people.
Speaking out in hopes of invoking change in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era could get an African American killed, but that didn’t silence Aibileen and Minny. They also found the courage to address those who disrespected them and maintained their dignity.
Despite the challenges presented back in the day, both Aibileen and Minny stayed rooted in the church. Indignities were thrown at them constantly, and life was hard. But like many Black women, they didn’t lose their religion. Instead, they found solace and comfort in the church.
“The Help” does not degrade African-American women because two of its stars are maids. Instead, it accurately depicts a time in Black history that we may not want to remember, but should not forget. And what’s wrong with a woman with limited employment options working as a maid? It’s an honest living that helps provide for their families.
Today’s college-educated Black women stand on the shoulders of women like those in “The Help.” Rather than dismissing this film for depicting a story centered around African-Americans working for White people, we should celebrate how far we’ve come, and do more as individuals to represent the qualities exemplified by women in “The Help.”
If you haven’t seen “The Help” yet, it’s now available on DVD.