Monday, September 5, 2011

The Help

“When you are able to tell your story to someone who wants to listen, it gives you freedom.” That was a quote from one of “the help” toward the end of the movie and I really felt Papa tell me that it was really the most important point of the movie. F you don’t know, “The Help” is a movie about the early 60’s in the south. It’s set in Jackson MS and it centers around the household’s in upper middle class Jackson, and their “help”. Although it seemed pretty stereotypical in how it portrayed most of the southern women, it really was a good movie. I know that as a southerner, these are times that I am not proud of. How can anyone be proud of pushing another race down and degrading them like we did for years and years.

I say we because I lived during this era. I went to an all white high school and attended an all white church. All my friends were white. That’s just the way it was, but it’s still no excuse. When I was growing up, we weren’t wealthy enough to have a maid every day. But I do remember having someone come in at least once a week to iron and clean house. I can remember I was around 8 or 9 and I would go out and play with her son. He was probably one of the few Afro American boys that I ever played with. It was only for a little while, and then he stopped coming over, why I don’t know.

When we were older we did have a maid, but by then we really didn’t need a baby sitter. Her name was Viola, and we liked her a lot, but she had a little problem with gin, and eventually she wasn’t around anymore either. So I grew up on the edge of this. I remember the freedom riders, and the murders and hangings by the KKK. I remember when JFK was killed and I was at Ga. Tech when MLK was killed. I remember the riots in Atlanta and our cook chasing a fraternity brother around the frat house with a knife after he said a crass statement about Dr. King. He really deserved it. Luckily he could run faster and didn’t get hurt.

These women and maids who worked silently in homes for far less than minimum wage were mainly silent. They stayed in the shadows and yet were really so important in the life of the family. Many times they were the glue that held the family together. But their stories were untold. They were trapped in a place in society where they had no place to go. Often times their children would follow them into the same hopeless situation. When you are hopeless, what can give you hope?

Many times it’s a voice, and someone to listen. As believers, we are to bring hope wherever we go. Often that hope is given first by a listening ear. To often we try to give advice or pray when the first and most important thing we need to do is to listen. First, we listen to them because it is the beginning of freedom. Secondly, we listen to Holy Spirit because He will help us understand what the next step in their freedom will be. It’s funny how just telling their stories began to release freedom to “the Help” in Jackson. Freedom, that’s what everyone wants, and so few of us have; even in this great country.

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