It’s the fourth Tuesday of the Month and the last post for Black History Month, so it’s about time I got back on track and gave you what you’re looking for…
Welcome to Bookworms, BHM edition!
Today, I want to review one of my favorites and one of the few pieces of literature where I’m still not sure whether the movie or the book was better. But either, there’s got to be a reason I have a quote from this book on my laptop. So without further ado, here we go.
The Help—Kathryn Stockett
As a novel that builds on the historical subjugation of black people, this one is a hard hitter without making sure to catch some pretty sweet moments in between. Even as Aibileen takes up her job as a maid and nanny in raising another white child—Mae Mobley—soon after the loss of her own child, we have an inside look into the discrimination and prejudice that she along with her friends and coworker Minny face in this 1960’s slice of life.
One big thing that this novel that tackles, something that many people did not brings a whole lot of attention to, was the idea of being an ally rather than a bystander. We see this through the character of Eugenia, or Skeeter, in her determination to stand against the prejudicial society she was raised in. In this situation, just like those who stood by Dr. King Jr and all those who fought for equal rights (that we still don’t have), we wouldn’t be anywhere without the noise we created as a collective. Allies are necessary. Through her own white priviledge, Skeeter found a way to use her own access to create some for people who would never get it on their own.
She became a catalyst. Every chance to make a change needs one.
As for another reason I like this book so much, well the quote on my laptop reads: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Just take a look at those three sentences; read it an extra time for good measure.
Did you notice the grammar? It isn’t proper. It’s the basic stereotype that black people don’t know how to speak properly. But the thing is, that concept is steeped in a whole lot of history because black people were not allowed to go to school and therefore, many didn’t learn to read and write unless their “master” taught them. If they didn’t learn that— and even when they did, they weren’t taught to any high standard— then they couldn’t learn to speak well because… Because the barriers of prejudice, racism, and an unequal society didn’t let them ever learn how. That is why, when Aibileen speaks those words to young Mae Mobley, it immediately created a juxtaposition between black and white, unbiased child and everyone else.
It’s not that the child didn’t see color, not at all. It’s that she hold prejudices attached to skin color that changed how she saw the woman who raised her rather than her own mother.
If that’s not a book that breaks barriers in just a few small parts of the book, then I don’t know what is.
I hope you’ve read this book; if you have, I want to hear about it! And if you haven’t, well put it on your list because this is a novel you don’t want to miss out on. Trust me on that.
See you Friday.