new wave feminism

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A quasi-academic look at Feminism, politics & race relations through the lens of a 20-something year old Nigerian American who was born & raised up in the (still) segregated south but has relocated to the "liberal" yet historic & traditional north.
This blog is my space for an interdisciplinary examination of race, gender, class, sexuality - all things intersectional & multi-dimensional.
Feminism the way I see it...

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Posts tagged "The Help"
As much as stories of black empowerment are critically important to tell, it’s also important to illustrate the depths of white brutality, and to acknowledge that in a deeply racist system, there were certain functions only white people could perform, and certain avenues that they had privileged access to.

Melissa Harris-Perry: The Help Doesn’t Help Domestic Workers

The specter of violence surrounds them, though it all occurs off stage whether it’s the assassination of a black leader or domestic violence visited upon a maid by her husband. The total lack of physical consequences for the maids’ courageous act of literary civil disobedience is historically absurd though it does fit with the sanitized tone of the movie. People who argue that it’s a realistic movie are incorrect: the men of Jackson would have killed several of these maids. The happy ending we get—Viola Davis’s Aibileen walking home unharmed as the screen fades to black—is fraudulent and so surreally absurd as to be Dali-esque.
For me, watching The Help was like visual waterboarding. Still, Viola Davis should win the Oscar for Best Actress




Called it.

Let’s go to bed with this

Even the NAACP does not give a damn when a black woman’s heart is broken and she’s been exploited since she was 13

I couldn’t even make it through the article, y’all. And yeah, I called it, too. Ugh.

Dear America:

there is nothing good about The Help.


(via crunkfeministcollective)

We respect the stellar performances of the African American actresses in this film. Indeed, this statement is in no way a criticism of their talent. It is, however, an attempt to provide context for this popular rendition of black life in the Jim Crow South. In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment.

The Association of Black Women Historians in “an open letter to fans of The Help

well said. the rest of the statement is worth the read

The issues that face African-American women were not kind of Real Housewives of Jackson, Mississippi, Mean Girls behavior. That’s not what it was. It was rape. It was lynching. It was the burning of communities. What this movie does, in 2011, is it completes the work that happened and started in 1923 when the Daughters of the American Confederacy, along with Sen John Williams from Mississippi, found money in the federal budget to erect a granite statue of Mammy in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, which had just been dedicated in 1922. This is the same Senate that refused to pass the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. In other words, a Senate that allowed black men to be lynched without federal oversight, but had the time to pass a bill that said we could erect a statue to Mammy. Now this is not granite and it’s not on federal land, but it is the same notion that the fidelity of black women domestics is more important than the realities of the lives and the pain, the anguish, the rape, the lynching that they experienced. And for that reason, it’s not artistic, it’s ahistorical. And it’s deeply troubling.

Melissa Harris-Perry, talking about the messages in the new movie The Help on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night. Watch the full clip here. (via thepoliticalnotebook)

I’m glad The Help is in theatres… because these are discussions we need to have. America is going to have a white savior complex no matter what, and we’re only somewhat willing to discuss this problematic national trend on the back of huge hollywood “hits” like this.

(via bad-dominicana)

There have been thousands of words written about Stockett’s skills, her portrayal of the black women versus the white women, her right to tell this story at all. I won’t rehash those arguments, except to say that I found the novel fast-paced but highly problematic. Even more troubling, though, is how the structure of narratives like The Help underscores the failure of pop culture to acknowledge a central truth: Within the civil rights movement, white people were the help.

The architects, visionaries, prime movers, and most of the on-the-ground laborers of the civil rights movement were African-American. Many white Americans stood beside them, and some even died beside them, but it was not their fight — and more important, it was not their idea.

This isn’t the first time the civil rights movement has been framed this way fictionally, especially on film. Most Hollywood civil rights movies feature white characters in central, sometimes nearly solo, roles. My favorite (not!) is Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning, which gives us two white FBI agents as heroes of the movement. FBI agents! Given that J. Edgar Hoover did everything short of shoot Martin Luther King Jr. himself in order to damage or discredit the movement, that goes from troubling to appalling.

Why is it ever thus? Suffice it to say that these stories are more likely to get the green light and to have more popular appeal (and often acclaim) if they have white characters up front. That’s a shame. The continued impulse to reduce the black women and men of the civil rights movement to bit players in the most extraordinary step toward justice that this nation has ever known is infuriating, to say the least. Minny and Aibileen are heroines, but they didn’t need Skeeter to guide them to the light. They fought their way out of the darkness on their own — and they brought the nation with them.

–Martha Southgate, The Truth about the Civil Rights Era

In regards to how Hollywood, and “The Help” screwed up history.

Just so we can have a running count, how many empowering & autonomous images of women of color actually DO make it through hollywood? (serious question)

I’ll wait


I read the book, and while it was an easy read, it was frustrating.  The Black charecters all spoke in a thick dialect that was reflected in the writing-“gone” instead of “going to/gonna”, etc. while the Whites—who, as Southerners, also speak in a dialect—were treated as having everyday normal speech.  It was distracting and gave me a headache to read the dialect spelled out for the Black charecters but not for the White charecters.  It was off-putting to see the Black women othered in so many ways.  Skeeter was made over by the end of the book, she was going to go to the Big City to go and find herself, oh, what a perfect boomer fable for her.  I think the book could have been easily subtitled: How a Nice White Lady Totally Saved the Day for Black People and Got Made Over With Longer Hair and Hipper Clothes.  

Also: If I never have to see another potrayal of the Sassy Black Woman ever again, it will be too fucking soon.  Sassy needs to be banned from the language, right now this minute because we keep dousing it in horseshit and using it this way.  It’s like being told you’re spunky—it is so. fucking. patronizing.

These books and movies have two types of Black women in them—the Sassy Black Woman who is often big, and loud, and talks back and the almost Virginal, very Asexual, motherly Proper Black Church Lady who is quiet, demure, and respectful and only acts because she is pushed to the limit.  There isn’t any room for any humanity for the charecters—I mean, shit, they’re as two-dimensional as could be.

I would have loved the book if Skeeter had run smack dab into the organizing efforts of Black women (since they pretty much started the civil rights movement), if the book was a chronicle of her getting a metaphorical smack upside the head and maybe learning something from it.  And that maybe, it wasn’t going to end up in a book that she’d publish, but that she’d actually—oh here’s a subtitle for the book in my head—Get a Fucking Clue.  Because if you’re nice to the help but the help is always Black and the employers are always White, well then we’ve still got a problem.  Because it’s about power, not about being nice and loving everyone, it’s about who has the power and who does not and are you willing to share the power?  It’s all good and well to blather on with platitudes about being nice but when you’re confronted with real power sharing, well, lemme tell ya, that’s when the rubber tends to hit the fucking road.  Why do you think that the typical comment in response to being called out on their racism is for White people to say, “I treat people the way I would like to be treated”?  Because addressing the institutional power would mean that they’d have to see how they benefit from racism, even if they’re nice to the one Black family on their street or the Black dude in their office.

/rant.  (Yes, this is your blogger on sinus medication…)

More great commentary. Keep it comin folks!