The Help by Kathryn Stockett reveals the authentic community of the African Americans and the whites during the 1960s in Mississippi.
- Black wives were abused by their own husbands.
We all know that during the 1960s, black people were not safe when they were with white people; however, black women were not safe even within their own society. Their husbands would “scream…all night, [throw] the sugar bowl up [on their wife’s] head, and beat [their wife] stone-cold” (Stockett 359). This shows that although there was great discrimination amongst the whites to the blacks, black women continued to feel threatened at home. Their hearts were never at ease. The innocent women never knew when their husbands would beat them up and create “cuts” and “bruises” that would “[sting] like a razor” (358). Furthermore, using the feminist lens to view this, this illustrates how the patriarchal humanity that we live was prevalent in the past decades.
- There were some white people that treated the African Americans well.
Throughout the story, there was a “naked man with a fire poker” (367) that approached Minny, who is a black maid. As Minnt was about to get attacked, “Miss Celia (a white lady) whacked the [man’s] face and caused “the man’s jaw [to go] sideways and [there was blood bursting] out of his mouth” (363). Most people would expect that white people would ignore the scene of black people getting hurt; however, the action that Miss Celia took completely contradicts this expectation. Although there was huge discrimination between the two races, there were some people that knew that segregation was amoral. Moreover, Miss Celia would constantly care for Minny as she once “gave [Minny] a dozen peaches” for her to eat. There were other women that treated the African Americans well. For example, Miss Skeeter would always say ‘thank you’ whenever a black maid served her. Furthermore, Miss Skeeter, who was beginning her writing career, was determined to arrange secret interviews to write a book about how horribly blacks were being treated. This is similar to Atticus Finch, a white lawyer, in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, who defended a black man, Tom Robinson for raping and beating a girl.
- There were myths that African Americans carry diseases.
Because whites had the most power in the community, they began to make myths that said that [blacks] carry different kinds of diseases” (10) because they felt that “colored people and white people [were] just so different” (218). These ridiculous myths were created for more people to treat blacks differently. Along these myths, came the separation of bathrooms. The wealthy women in Mississippi were soon “upset cause the Nigra uses the inside bathroom and so do [they]” (9). There were even laws that stated, “no colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls” (202). Other biased legislation that included having “a separate building on separate grounds for the instruction of all blind persons of the colored race” (203). In the 21st century, African Americans and whites share the same bathrooms; however, the segregation still continues today. According to DoSomething.org, “the average white student attends a school that is 75% white, but only 1/12 blacks.”
- White babies called their black maids “Mama”
As Miss. Skeeter was writing her confidential stories about African Americans, she was surprised how white children would call their maids “mama” (181). This was because most white women did not know how to take care of their children and even though the white ladies don’t do anything to raise their child when their children don’t do something they want, some of the white mothers would slap their children at the back of their bare legs. Therefore, the only love that these white children would get was from their loving and warmhearted maids.
- Blacks were always holding their anger in.
Because blacks had no right to speak up, they had to keep all their thoughts to themselves. Since they were treated poorly, they always internally judge white people: “Miss Skeeter always look like somebody else told her what to wear” (5). When white people would insult them, the faces of African Americans “[would go] hot and [their] tongue [would] twitch” (35) because they weren’t allowed speak out. It is always frustrating to keep one’s opinions to themselves. This is not mentally healthy for an individual as it meant that the African Americans during this time never felt safe and comfortable.
6. The lives of whites were not perfect.
Although the white people had the most power in the society and didn’t have anyone against them, paradoxically, a lot of them were not happy with their lives. Miss Skeeter knew that she would never be able to tell her mother that she “wanted to be a writer” (65) and Miss Celia “won’t leave her house” (56) because she doesn’t have any friends. The prejudice to whites not only made the African Americans have a tremendously miserable life, but the white people, who were causing the inequality were also not satisfied with their lives as well.
Racial discrimination has begun to reduce after the 1960s; however, it is still prevalent in our society today. Everyone that is born should be treated equally because we all deserve it. Our race, gender, wealth and so forth shouldn’t determine how we get treated; therefore, we as individuals should work together to reduce these discriminations that are destructing our world.