Revisiting “The Help”

Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep, I use my eReader with a backlight to revisit some old eBooks I have on there. One night recently, I re-opened The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Now I want to preface this with a few things:

  • I am a cis-het white woman and admittedly have a lot of privilege
  • I traveled to Ghana in college, around the time I first read this book, and voluntourism was part of this trip
  • I have previously worked as an Americorps Teaching Fellow & Teach for America Corps Member, and have spent some time grappling with my feelings as a white woman teaching POC.

I could not finish this re-read. I read the first few chapters, and I was upset. The author is a white woman who is attempting to use AAVE from the South in the 1960’s and it’s just narrative blackface.

There are A LOT more people discussing thing that are POC, and it’s more important to listen to their voices on the topic than just another white woman’s. Here are some links that helped me change my Goodreads review on The Help from a 4.5 to a 1 star.

  • The Feminist Wire: Kathryn Stockett Is Not My Sister and I Am Not Her Help
  • Shrink Tank: White Savior Films: The Psychology Behind the Problematic Film Trope
  • Take it from Viola Davis, who has regrets about her role in the film

Again, I’m a white woman and know that I’m coming from a place of privilege. I just wanted to point this out, and commit myself to reading some more novels about & written by POC.

Some recent novels by authors of color that have been phenomenal:

  • The Hate U Give & On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones

Some novels HIGH on my TBR, that I’m committed to reading before the end of 2019:

  • Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue
  • My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Dear Martin, Nic Stone
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • The Mothers, Brit Bennett

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