S: THE HELP BY KATHRYN STOCKETT
FC: Baby Steps | Response by Eileen Li | on The Help, by Kathryn Stockett | "Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realize, we are just two people, not that much separates, not nearly as much as I thought. " - The Help
1: What if your whole life were decided before you even born? What if the colour of your skin dictate what you got the right to be? Knowing you gonna be a white lady's maid before you old enough to ride a bike? To fuss over their crying babies clean their fancy white people houses and cook their chicken all crispy like while your own kid grow up on lettuce? To hav'ta trod through six inches of snow just to get to your coloured bathroom in the garage 'Cause you ain't good enough for a regular white folk's toilet? What if you got to keep on smiling calling 'em Mister and Missus even when you feel like knocking those fake-kind looks off their faces as they speak to you all patient and slow like you some dim-witted child? What if society were divided black and white And you just happen to be born on the losing side? How can you hide it, deny it when your shame be covering every inch of your body? | But why should you be ashamed? You both got two eyes, two ears, a nose You both the same just with a different wrapping You just as much a human as they is Don't ever think you don't got as much a right to exist as they do 'Cause then nothing ever gonna change
2: The Help Synopsis Twenty-two year old Skeeter has just returned home from college after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but its 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy until she has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Although Skeeter enjoys the monthly bridge games with childhood friends Hilly Holbrook and Elizabeth Leefolt, her relationship with Hilly turns afoul when she jokes about the former's mission to see that all white residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have a separate bathroom outside their homes for the coloured help. This sets off a battle of wills between Skeeter and Hilly. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman, raising her seventeenth white child in Miss Leefolt's household. She's always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer hold back. Aibileen's best friend is fat, short, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Jackson. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, and has lost another job. Minny finally fins a housekeeping position with somebody to new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss, Miss Cecilia, has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nevertheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk; to write a tell-all book about what it's really like for a black woman to work for a white lady. Why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. But sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
3: Aibileen Minny meeting Skeeter Skeeter & Constantine | The Making of The Help
4: What if society was divided in two, separated by an uncrossable line?
5: "I used to believe in lines. I don't anymore. They just in our heads. Lines between blacks and whites ain't there either. Some folks just made those up, long ago." | "All my life, I'd been told what to believe, about politics, coloreds, being white, being a girl, but recently, I've realized that I actually had a choice in what to believe in." | The Help takes place during the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, when society was very rigid and closed-minded. Coloreds were hated, considered as dirty and primitive, by the white society. Libraries, cinemas...schools, supermarkets...Everything was labeled either "colored" or "white". Oftentimes, "white" places were cleaner and better stocked. There were actual laws (made by whites) that deprived and abused the rights of African Americans. As a child, you were told what to believe, and differences in opinion were discouraged. Prejudice was everywhere: against coloreds, girls, poor people, anybody that was different...While I was reading, something really stood out for me. The book described an invisible set of lines, keeping people separated and apart, that nobody dared to cross...
6: ...but why did these lines exist? And are they truly gone today? What if our hatred and mistrust is still here? Better concealed, perhaps (nobody wants to be called racist) Judging quietly, prejudicing only in our minds? Have you ever been left out, just because you didn't look or act like everybody else? Have you ever disliked somebody, before even talking to them? Have we really changed at all?
7: 1960's | In the summer of 1964, in Harlem, New York. A white Irish-American police officer, Thomas Gilligan, shot and killed 15-year-old James Powell, who was black, for allegedly charging him armed with a knife. It was found that Powell was unarmed. A group of black citizens demanded Gilligan's suspension. The police department did not suspend Gilligan. | MISTRUST & HATRED
8: 50 years later | New Year's Day, 2009, Oakland, California. A white transit cop detained Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man, and several others at the station. The BART police proceeded to shoot Grant, who was handcuffed and lying helplessly face down on the floor. The cop was charged with involuntary manslaughter. | "He was sentenced to five years in prison for killing an innocent [black] man. Someone charged with growing marijuana is typically sentenced to double the time." -Protester | Does it really seem involuntary?
9: More than 50 years have gone So why is it all still here? How much have we really changed? Can't we learn from history? From all the hatred and tragedies caused by our own unwillingness to understand? | "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from it." - George Hegel
10: After all these years Discrimination, racism... They're all still here. We haven't changed all that much We're still not trying hard enough But can we really help it? We all want to judge people Sort them into categories Race, Gender, Age We all want to feel Superior w
11: But surely racism can't touch us here. We're not racist. We live in Canada. The true north strong and free. One of the most multicultural places on earth. Besides, I've never experienced racism before. | Are you sure?
12: Today I live in Canada We are multicultural We are accepting Racism does not exist Everybody is treated equally Everybody is given a fair chance We welcome immigrants We respect our differences We believe that everybody is equal Prejudice is not Canadian We do not judge | Today I live in Canada We are multicultural But why is he so different? I don't like his face I feel superior He doesn't deserve a chance Why can't they go back to their own countries? Why can't he be more like me? I am better than him He is not Canadian Judgment is everywhere | ...................................... .............................. ............................. ......................... ............ ...... ............... ................ .......................... .............................
13: In grade one, there was a girl named Sidney. I remember really wanting her to like me. One day, during recess, I offered her a bag of crispy fried dough (a Chinese snack), and asked if I could play with her and her friends. She looked at me funny and said; "My mom says I shouldn't play with you guys." She looked confused by the crisps in my hands and turned away. I didn't dwell too much on it at the time; I assumed that her mom didn't like me for something I did (the time I accidentally took her pencil case home). It was years later that I realized it might have gone a little deeper than that. In grade four, a new student joined our class in the middle of the year, right before Valentine's Day. She was from Iran. Most of the class was either Chinese, Jewish, or white. We didn't get why she covered her hair with a scarf everyday. "It makes her look so stupid." We whispered behind her back. She tried to be our friend, and we tried our best to discourage her. If she asked to play with us, we'd play hide-and-seek, and she'd be the searcher. We'd all run away from her and secretly start a new game. I don't think anybody really tried to be her friend. I know that I didn't. | Think Back
15: When people look at me, they think: smart and cheap When people look at me, they think: violent and rude When people look at me, they think: dumb and spoiled | But why can't we..... | In the 1960's, everybody had a specific role to play. You weren't allowed to be anything other than a stereotypical image. For example, Skeeter was expected to act the part of a "sophisticated society lady", but she found it extremely hard to mold herself to that image. I also understand how hard it is to try and fit yourself into society's general view...
16: ...be a little bit of everything?
17: In the beginning, I didn't believe that we've changed. But perhaps we have. We're more accepting today than we've ever been in any other time in history. "Colored" and "white" places don't exist anymore. We have friends from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds: China, Mexico, Philippines, England, India...we're all connected to each other in some small way. I'm not saying that we're perfect. There's still so many ways we could improve. Equality is fragile and new. Like wet clay, we need to work with it, give it some shape.... before we can finally create a Masterpiece. | There was a lot of displays of discrimination and racism in the Help. However, that was not what I responded to. In the book, they talked about how sometimes, some things will never change. This idea really stood out for me, and I began to wonder; Are we truly incapable of changing? Have our attitudes changed at all in the last 50 years? Yes and no. Discrimination and racism continue to exist, but we're trying. We've come far in the last 50 years, but there's still a long way to go.
18: 1978- Max Robinson- first African American news anchor | 2002- John Bennett - first Native American astronaut in space | 2010- First Islamic University in USA | "In the beginning, I didn't believe that we've changed. But perhaps we have...."
19: 1947- Jack Robinson- first African American in MLB (Major League Baseball) | 2008- Barack Obama- first African American US president | 1940's- first Chinese Canadian troops | Baby steps... | "
20: Credits and Explanations Front Cover: Title page, quote from the book The Help, spoken by Skeeter. Slide One: Introduction I wrote, based on Aibileen's feelings and thoughts about white people. Slide Two: Synopsis, altered by me, original from: http://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/for-students/summaryplot-overview/ Slide Three: Images that describe some of the events included in the synopsis. Slide Four: During the 1960's, black and white people were kept separated. There were "colored" and "white" schools, supermarkets, cinemas...everybody was sorted and grouped by their race and social status. The white man was typically richer and lived a far more extravagant lifestyle than a black man. I used images to portray just how different their lives were. Despite the injustice, only few people dared to complain. Slide Five & Six: Quotes from the book in boxes. An introduction to my main idea: that we've changed, but not enough. Slide Seven, Eight & Nine: Comparisons between our attitudes towards black people during the 1960's and the modern era. How much have we really changed? The distrust and hatred is still here. Clips from newspaper articles about unprovoked police shootings of black men from 50 years ago and recently. What caused these policemen to pull the trigger?I don't believe that their actions were involuntary. If it had been a white man under arrest, would they have handled the situation differently? Images of racist signs represent our continuing misunderstanding and hatred towards different races and cultures. As shown by the "No Whites Allowed" sign (near center) it is not just "non-white"people who are discriminated against. All of us are affected. Slide Ten: Questions I had about racism and the changes in our attitudes over the years. I concluded that racism is still around us, but there have been some subtle changes in the last 50 years.
21: Slide Eleven & Twelve: If you look from a distance, you would think that Canada was the perfect place. How could we possibly be racist in such a multicultural country? But, if you look closer, you'll discover that racism still exists...Pictures of islamic and chinese cultures represent the diversity in Canada. I have texts in foreign languages to show that, although we live in the same country, we have some really different ways of living and thinking. Slide Thirteen: Personal experiences I've had with racism (when I was subject to racism and how I judged others based on their appearance and culture) My memories prove that discrimination can affect us from a very early age. Slide Fourteen: In this slide, I had pictures and images that represented the different ways we respond to racism and discrimination. We could feel out of place (portrayed by blue M&Ms with the awkward red M&M (in bottom left corner), lonely (center bottom), sad (mom comforting daughter, sad girl), or left out (center image). We could also feel obliged to fit a certain image, be it a studious Chinese child (top right), or a wild, happy White teenager (center left). Often, people assume that Chinese people eat nothing but plain rice everyday; for me, the bowl of rice represents how people sometimes make assumptions without even trying to get to know each other better. Slide Fifteen, Sixteen & Seventeen: I begin to describe three stereotypes surrounding Asians, Africans and typical White people. In slide sixteen, I blended in all three photos from the previous scene, to represent how one person could have many different sides and personalities, not just labels based on your skin color or your appearance. In slide 16 and 17, I had images of people embracing each other and an image that showed the merging on all three "stereotypes", to portray that there is a little bit of everything in all of us. The pictures of the children hugging represent mutual respect and love. The hands holding up the globe represents how we are all equally important in this world (everybody is doing their part for the planet). Slide Eighteen & Nineteen: Images of how our society is becoming more accepting. We're becoming more open-minded and slowly abandoning past attitudes we've had toward different races and cultures. Every year, people are attempting new things and we're slowly becoming more accepting and unified.