“the help”…a “black eye”…in american history

The HelpMy daughter and I wanted to see The Help the day it opened, and we did. From its ads on TV, I thought the film would be belly laughs from beginning to end. So I wasn’t prepared to cry, as I did, throughout most of the last half of the movie. Told from the viewpoint of one of the Black maids, Aibileen, the story centers on life in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s.

Capri Movie Theater

Image by Mr Jan via Flickr

Often until something is placed in front of us in black and white, or in this case in technicolor, the situation between Blacks and Whites in America is an event that occurred outside our realm of consciousness. We know it in general terms, in statistics on the evening news. “The Help” brings the Black struggle down to gutter level. A hard-working mama eking out a living for her family for less than minimum wage, a job description that entails everything and anything the White woman of the house decides it is, banned from using the White toilet and having to go outside the house to pee and poop, raising the White children as their own so their mothers can be society’s butterflies, fired on the spot for being an embarrassment in front of White acquaintances.

Cover of

Cover of Gone with the Wind

Yes, Black maids were gainfully employed, but at what price to themselves, to their humanity? A couple of the stories told by maids made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. One had been willed by mother to daughter, essentially enslaving the Black woman to the family as an heirloom. I thought slavery went out with the likes of Tara in Gone With The Wind?” I mean wasn’t that a long time ago? Another, an  elderly maid, attempted to shorten her walk to work by cutting through open land. One day she met up with the landowner who threatened to put a bullet through her with his shotgun, if she continued to trespass. Lucky that she worked for a beneficent employer who bought 2 acres of land through which his maid could walk freely to get to his house.

The “last straw” that convinced Aibileen to cooperate with the young, White journalist who wrote “The Help,” was the death of her 23-year-old son. While on the job a truck ran over him, crushing a lung. The foreman threw the young man’s body onto the back of the pickup and drove him to the Black hospital, where he dumped him on the ground and drove off honking his horn to alert the staff.

While “The Help” is fictional, born of the imagination of author Kathryn Stockett, herself a native of Jackson, Mississippi, I’m certain she had enough familiarity with the community in which she grew up to know the truth of what occurred behind closed doors, and in public. She may or may not have witnessed the horrific transgressions detailed in her novel, but the moral fibre of her hometown was ingrained into her being, just as it is for all of us from the time we are born into our own neighborhoods and towns. They make us…whether we like it or not. Of course change can be had…

but sometimes the price can be…one’s life…alive…or dead………hugmamma.

(Note…of course I highly recommend you see “The Help.” There are comedic moments…that lighten the tragic undertones threading through the story.)

weekly photo challenge: boundaries #3

…now remind me again…why were there boundaries???…hugmama.

“free at last, free at last,…we are free at last!!!”

Another place, another time, Martin Luther King proclaimed the freedom of African-Americans from slavery’s lynch-hold.

Today Egyptians have realized the decimation of Hosnei Mubarack’s stranglehold on their lives. But while King and his followers protested nonviolently with as much support as they could muster, the cause to free the Egyptian people from their leader’s tyranny was embraced by millions via the internet. 

Thirty-eight-year-old Wael Ghonim, marketing director for technology giant Google, spearheaded the campaign to free his countrymen from 30 years of suppression and hopelessness. No longer able to distance himself from their plight, Ghonim felt compelled to help, even risking his own security and comfort, and that of his wife and kids. Instant viewing of global images on YouTube these days seems to uphold the truism, that there’s “safety in numbers.” So perhaps Ghonim knew that the rewards reaped would far outweigh the risk in which he was willing to engage. 

“A digital revolution,” as one news pundit explained of Mubarak’s removal by his people. The internet has leveled the playing field, allowing the “Davids” of the world to successfully take aim and bring down the “Goliaths.” My earlier post “give up the internet?” published on 2/7/11, pondered the inevitable loss of a simpler life, when technology came to dominate.  

These last 18 days have shown the internet to be a weapon in the hands of the masses. Egypt‘s next generation, fed up with a government they didn’t countenance, and armed with useless college degrees, expressed their contempt for the status quo. They voiced their vehemence on Facebook, the online social networking system. From this global vantage point a phenomenal movement grew. As a result, President Mubarak is history.

“Aided and abetted” by technology, Oprah Winfrey, a black woman, garnered unimaginable power from the masses who identified with her. “Aided and abetted” by technology, the Tea Party Movement born out of the disenchantment of Americans for their government, has the power to make and break political careers. “Aided and abetted” by technology, the Egyptians gathered millions together in protest, making their collective voice heard and their will known, successfully bringing down the enemy. 

I’ve always felt that the “have nots” live with faces pressed against the glass, envying the lives of the “haves.” If those who “have” don’t freely share of their material wealth, then the “have nots” will wrestle away whatever they can. Deserving or not, it doesn’t matter. All “have nots” probably feel it’s their moral right to live in equality with their fellow “haves.”

who could argue… with the “have nots” in egypt…hugmamma.

egyptians, no different

I haven’t as yet delved into what the media is printing about the current Egyptian uprising. I only know what I see and hear on TV. At the moment, until things resolve themselves one way or the other, it’s a lot of information to digest. Trying to decipher what I think of everything isn’t something I can wrap my brain around right now. The outcome of their fate ultimately rests in the hands of the Egyptians themselves, from the top politico to the peon in the street.

The one thought that runs through my mind is that because of technology, a combination of television, computers, mobile devices, the internet and its myriad of tools, people around the world, living in hovels or palaces, can witness what occurs in other countries. And like snapshots retained in our memories, what we see can fester in our subconsciences for a long time, until we decide to act upon them.

It’s my personal feeling that both President Obama and the Tea Party Movement have been catalysts in what we are now witnessing in Egypt and Tunisia. While there are those who disagree, I think the President has shown himself to be a champion of the middle and lower classes. From health care reform embracing 13,000,000 Americans without insurance to speaking up for better education for the less fortunate, he has shown himself to be the son of a woman who died of cancer while fighting for health insurance coverage.

The Tea-Partiers have successfully shown millions at home and abroad, that the masses can unite via the internet to unseat politicians, replace them with candidates of their choosing, and ultimately, influence government decisions. Heady stuff for a movement started by 2 Atlanta housewives, Amy Kremer and Jenny Beth Martin, strangers to one another, who were stewing over the economic downturn and its negative impact upon their lives. (My post of 11/3/10, “two housewives,”founders of tea party movement”.) Power to the people has never been more overwhelmingly proven than in what these 2 ordinary citizens initiated, to have it become the Tea Party Movement as we know it today, a force with which to be reckoned.

History has proven time and again, that people will rise up to challenge whom they perceive as their oppressors. We who enjoy the benefits of an American democracy can do so far more rationally than countries ruled by dictators. We can protest without provoking full-out civil war. I think we learned our lesson a long time ago under another president I admire, Abraham Lincoln. He too was not a favorite of all Americans, but he did the best he could, according to the principles in which he believed, one being that all people, including slaves, should live freely.

The Egyptians, and Tunisians, want to choose how to live their own lives. Like us they want to earn a living, provide for their families, take pleasure in small things, and give their children hope for a better future. Not so much to ask for really. In fact, they just want what we Americans already enjoy.

I may have oversimplified the unrest that rages in the Middle East. But sometimes the experts complicate matters by interjecting too much hyperbole. I’m not an expert, just an ordinary housewife who understands that people like me just want to make a decent life for our families. Not a big deal really, but, in fact, it is a really big deal when we’ve only got one chance to live our best lives.

people the world over want the same things…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…hugmamma.

“aloha,” the meaning

I don’t claim to speak for all Hawaiians, only myself and perhaps a handful of others I know who may share my sentiments. The uproar over a mosque being built near Ground Zero seems to be growing the ever-widening gap among people, in our country and abroad, but particularly here in America. Republicans and Democrats have always been on sparring terms, but added to the mix now are the “Tea-Party” supporters with Sarah Palin seemingly at the helm. An uneasy coexistence among us began when the streamers and champagne glasses were tossed out, after President Obama’s inaugural. Did civility and tolerance get thrown in the trash as well?

Wanting and needing to live a healthy life going forward, for my sake and that of my husband’s and daughter’s, it’s been essential that I adopt a more compassionate, positive outlook toward myself, and others. Diseases, like Alzheimer’s breed on negativity. I’m certain, as survivors of cancer would agree, that dwelling upon the bad aspects of the disease doesn’t help in the fight against and may, in fact, promote its spread. So why would we want to encourage more vitriol amongst ourselves, families, friends, neighbors,co-workers,communities and fellow-worshippers of the same Being whom we all believe as benevolent? Might we not share that same benevolence with our fellow-men and women?

Opponents of both views  in the brouhaha over mosques being built on U.S. soil seem unwilling to share the land, let alone compassion ( “a feeling of sympathy for another’s misfortune” according to Webster) towards one another. Yesterday’s Journal cited several ongoing conflicts around the country. In Temecula, California “Local officials will consider in November plans by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley for a 25,000-square-foot mosque.” Pastor William Rench of Calvary Baptist Church, potentially neighboring the proposed mosque, is concerned about extremist sentiments expressed by one American Islamic leader.  The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, plans to build a new mosque and school. Darrel Whaley “A local pastor at Kingdom Ministries Worship Center…has spoken at county meetings against plans for the mosque and recreational facilities.” Meanwhile plans have been approved to build a mosque in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. President of the Islamic Society of Sheboygan, Imam Mohammad Hamad says “The issue here is not the issue of a religious building, it is an issue of the Constitution.” A supporter Reverend Gregory S. Whelton, pastor at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sheboygan felt President Obama’s controversial remarks “articulated the same issues of religious tolerance that were at stake here.”

Since Lincoln’s stand against racial prejudice, which cost too much in the loss of human lives, our country has struggled to rid itself of the taint of human degradation, slavery. But it seems to be our lot on earth never to achieve equality for we always keep our hearts and minds closed to others, who are unlike ourselves. Perhaps we fear they will take what we have, leaving us nothing. 

I struggle too, I’m not above the fray. But for the sake of our children and their children, it’s my sincerest hope that we continue fighting for equality of ideas, beliefs, cultures. Politics, it seems, carries the day suffocating our values, our humanity.

Tourists and others comment on the “Aloha spirit” among Hawaiians. It is spoken of as a beneficent state of mind. For the most part, it is. Native Hawaiians under the rule of King Kamehameha wanted for nothing. He owned the land, and the people were granted its use for their daily needs. I think because of this, Hawaiians are not hoarders by nature. Unfortunately this inherent openness toward sharing the wealth and beauty of the islands has enabled others to historically take whatever they wanted, leaving the natives very little to share of their inheritance.

Despite their own dilemma most Hawaiians continue to welcome visitors to their Paradise, the thought being we all need one another to survive. So they continue to share the thunderous waterfalls, the white sand beaches, the warm waters of the blue Pacific, the green canopies of local foliage, the migrating humpbacks and other wildlife that still abounds, the hula dancers telling stories with their hands, their eyes, and melodic voices rising on soft breezes evoking reminiscences of Hawaii’s past, wonderment at Hawaii’s present, and promises of Hawaii’s future.

Hawaiians are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of others, they  would just prefer that everyone get along. There’s an old saying my mom use to pass along when some wrong was righted “No mo pilikea.” We knew then there would be “no more trouble,” “no more worries.”

that’s what I wish for us all…hugmamma.