Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 13, 2011

The Help

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Reflections . . . soul-searching . . . emotions . . . !  Those are some of the descriptive words that are going on in my mind as I write this. Without spending time trying to organize my feelings, I have simply begun to write.

We have just returned from seeing the movie The Help.  My wife had read the book and had shared much of it with me.  The story she told to me drew me back to my past.  I wanted to see the movie.  There is so much for me to process from viewing the movie.

I grew up in the era of the movie, and my memories of those days went back even into the forties.  They were the days before the Civil Rights Movement.  I do not speak with condescension or disrespect.  I will use language from those days . . . the days of two entrances to a doctor’s office, divided waiting rooms in train stations, and separate drinking fountains . . . days when the stark difference of inequality presented itself between white and colored.

I grew up in a strong segregated town.  I did not know the word ‘segregated’ but I did know there was a place for whites and a place for blacks.  I knew that ‘colored town’ was one isolated part of the town.  I knew that the only running water there was a community faucet . . .  and there was no electricity.

I knew that no black person would come to the front door of our home . . . always to the back door. I accepted all this as the way things were!  I didn’t really question it.  That was just the way it was!  I can honestly say that I have no memories of abuse . . . but I knew well that the black folks were considered different than whites.  That was just part of my culture.

The family across the street had a maid that lived on the premises.  She had a son my age.  But that young boy was not allowed to come to the front yard or to be visible so that we could wave at each other.  There were a few times . . . and only a few times . . . that I played with him in the back yard of the home where he lived.  Now . . . I have questions that I cannot answer.  Did that neighbor tell her maid that her son could not play with me?  Did my parents or my aunt that lived next door to the neighbor express displeasure in our playing together?  I will never know . . . but the movie has brought up such a question.

And then my grandparents . . . Georgia was their maid and cook.  She served us at the table.  She ate in the kitchen after all the work was done.  Was she allowed to use the bathroom facilities when needed?  Though it appeared she was treated well and worked all her years for them . . . the movie raises questions.   I did not attempt any discernment on those issues as a boy . . . again, it was just the culture I knew.

We had a maid and cook.  She was Gussie.  The movie made me remember how much I loved her.  She was there to care for us.  She would always have time for us to have some fun.  She would walk us to our favorite swimming hole . . . she would be our overseer when we played . . . she would hug us . . . advise us . . . and be to us whatever we needed.  She was truly part of my life.  Again, I deeply wonder what was in her heart and mind.  The movie has raised the question.

I know my teenage years brought changes.  I found myself especially drawn to Aunt Ophelia.  I wrote of her in a blog.  (Aunt Ophelia. www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/02/05) I remember the uncomfortable feeling of being in a segregated era when I was around her.  At that time, perhaps one of my best friends was John L.  He worked in the family business delivering on  bike and doing odd jobs around the store.  I would go to his  part of town and play baseball with him and his friends.  I never thought it was a taboo.  We talked often of girl friends  . . . and typical teenage boy talk.  We often joked about how I could slip him into the drive-in theatre.  Those were the days before desegregation.  We knew the society we lived in . . . we both accepted it because, again, it was just the way it was!

Later years would present much more in the way of dealing with prejudice . . . segregation . . . and dramatic changes in our culture, but especially in me!  There are many blogs I have written that give insight to such. (Ku Klux Klan. www.lawsonjolly.com/2009/12/29; The Church Tested-Part One. www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/04/30; The Church Tested-Part Two. www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/05/01; The Church Tested-Part Three. www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/05/02;  Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr. www.lawsonjolly.com/2010/10/17)

The movie, The Help, certainly affected me.  For wrong attitudes and behavior, I am sincerely sorry . . . but I so rejoice that I have been delivered and have a different respect for those who have been so abused and mistreated — even by good folks that did not know what they were doing.  So many of the whites were simply products of their culture.  It is no excuse . . . but it happened!

I can never relate to the heart of a black person that has endured segregation, abuse, isolation, and poverty, but I certainly need to have an empathetic heart and remember that we are all equal in the eyes of our God.  I am grateful to God for His work in my life . . . and I am thankful for the reflections today that came by way of the movie.

Lawson

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1 Comment »

  1. Yes, it was very sad and shameful what happened to the black folks and it still continues to this very day with the mistreatment of the American Indian. The black we stole from their own land and the Indian we took their land, their homes and drove them to reservations often not fit for beast or animals.
    Jody

    Comment by Jody — August 13, 2011 @ 12:58 pm | Reply


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