Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Lesson in Courage: My Review of The Help

I loved Kathryn Stockett's novel The Help. Loved it. However, I was nervous when I found out they were making it into a movie. Hollywood has this way of screwing things up sometimes especially when it comes to movies set in the Civil Rights era in the South, but when I found out Kathryn Stockett's childhood friend and fellow Mississippi native Tate Taylor was going to be directing it, I eased up slightly. Now that I've seen the movie, I've realized only a Mississippi native could have written that book or directed that movie. See, as someone who was born and raised in Mississippi, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my home state.

Now, before you go berating me for insulting my birthplace, let me explain. I love Mississippi. I love summer nights and the tune of crickets singing and fried chicken and the electricity of football season in the air and strong but delicate magnolia trees and a million other things about Mississippi, but my home state has a dark history that's no fault of its own. The guilt lies solely with its people and the way in which they've treated each other with injustice and allowed hatred over petty differences to engulf our state's history like a disease. Not that any other place doesn't have just as much guilt, but when I think about the horrors inflicted on African Americans and the hatred and fear felt by both races in my beloved Mississippi over the years, it just makes me sick. And it has always left me asking myself a haunting question. Would I have been brave enough? All through school when learning about the Civil Rights movement or even the Civil War, I always had that question in the back of my mind. Would I have been brave enough to do something about stand up for what is right? I hope that I would have been. I hope that I would have been one of those good people who knew that love and respect are neither black nor white who treated all people equally and spoke up when others didn't. I hope I would. Movies and books like this always find me hoping I'd have been one of those people, and I like to think there were more of those people than history lets on. People who fought in quiet ways that wouldn't get them in the textbooks but changed their world in smaller yet still significant ways.

I see a lot of myself in Skeeter Phelan - curly hair, single, writer, sassy, college-educated, career-minded Mississippi girl - and I hope that I'd have been as brave as she. It's a beautiful and moving book and an equally beautiful and moving movie. Read it. See it. Go out and live it...because injustice didn't end with the Civil Rights Act, and there are new injustices to fight everyday. The Lord has called us to stand up against them and to be set apart. Find your cause and fight for it, and He will be there beside you to give you strength and clear your path.


Anonymous said...

You and skeeter are so alike! I was thinking that when reading the book and trying to visualize the characters. Can't wait to see the movie!

Kathryn Taylor said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your heart in an honest way.

Stefanie Kellum said...

Well, Kat, you're pretty good at that whole sharing your heart in an honest way thing too. :) But thanks!