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THE HELP- A movie set in the 1960’s in Mississippi; A young woman returns to her hometown from college. Unlike the trend of getting married and pregnant, she aspires to be a great writer and work at a prestigious publishing firm. She decides that her first work should be a collection of excerpts from the colored women who work in the homes of these prominent white families. Her actions inevitably cause havoc in the small town in Mississippi.
“Oh Hell No!!!” That was my initial reaction when I first saw the previews of the upcoming movie. The audacity to depict Black women in such a degrading way baffled me! The commercials that came every second promoting the movie didn’t help my mood and only fed my anger.
A few days later, I sat with a couple of my colleagues relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. One of us decides to ask the question, “Who is going to see The Help?” We all look at each other uncomfortably waiting for the other to speak first. We all immediately begin to speak at once, voicing our disapproval’s, uncertainty and hurt. We all agree to not see the movie. It’s our way, I thought, we were being respectful to our race and the memory of our ancestors. I made myself believe that my anger was justified because women shouldn’t be depicted in such a way. After constant persuasion and coaxing from a friend of mine, I finally agreed to see the movie.
I must say the movie was a pleasant surprise. Yes I know these women are maids, they are disrespected, they are abused, belittled and everything in between. Did that stop us from seeing Glory, Freedom Riders, & The Roots? Well why make a big issue about this movie? Perhaps it’s because in the previews of Glory, they didn’t show Denzel brutally getting “punished”, and in the previews of The Roots they didn’t show the character Kunta Kinte getting brutalized after attempting to escape. Maybe we’re offended because we see these women in their “uniforms”, and of course the degrading title, The Help doesn’t aid in easing our distress. Maybe what bothers us is seeing it, the hurtful and unsettling truth of our past. The story depicted in the movie is unfortunately our history. The women of our ancestry have experienced the oppression of first being Black, and second being women. This is the truth inwhich we can’t run away from.
The movie however doesn’t focus only on the women’s current state. It depicts their strength, their courage, their ability to overcome their situations. That is the beauty in the story; their ability to change the lives of those that surround them. It is uplifting and admirable to watch these women wonderfully play the roles of the characters depicted in the film. The ugliness isn’t hidden and I respect that! I’ve come to the realization, it’s time for the Black Community to overcome our history. Of course the hurt might ever be present, and at times hard to swallow, but it wont hold us down. We wont allow the occurances of the past to cause self-pity within us. It shouldn’t shackle us; instead we should look on proudly at how far we’ve come. We will teach our children how we are the product of Kings and Queens, seeds of a strong people! We are an admirable and strong race.
And even if this movie was made for the purpose of offending us, mocking us, and hurting us…. we wont allow for those feelings to be stirred. Instead, like I, we will laugh at the funny parts, cry at the hurtful and sad parts, and most of all smile with pride and admiration at the strength depicted in these characters. They’ve tried… but they can’t break us! We’ve beaten the odds! So I encourage you all to go and see this movie. If you decide not to, I hope it isn’t for the reasons I initially didnt want to go and see it. This movie, in my opinion, is a great movie.
We are BEAUTIFUL!
We are STRONG!
We are OVERCOMERS!
Written By: Judith Jacques
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this post is that of the author and not BLACK STREET entirely.
Midwin Charles is a New York attorney and founder of the law firm Midwin Charles & Associates LLC. She provides regular commentary on law, pop culture and politics for various television shows and networks, including the Nancy Grace Show, The Joy Behar Show, Prime News and Showbiz Tonight on HLN, truTV, Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, FOX Business Network, MSNBC, WPIX 11 and is guest host for “Express Yourself” on New York’s 107.5 WBLS. Ms. Charles was a Legal Contributor for In Session (formerly Court TV) where she provided legal commentary for live trials daily on truTV.
Active in community affairs, Ms. Charles is a member of the Dean’s Diversity Council for American University’s Washington College of Law, the Marketing Committee of Syracuse University, the Planning Committee for Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) and Board Member of the Haitian Roundtable. She has served as a member of the Civil Rights Committee for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, lectured at Syracuse University and written for The Huffington Post.
Ms. Charles earned her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and her law degree from the American University, Washington College of Law, where she was an Articles Editor for the American University Law Review. Following law school, she served as a law clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit Judge Eric L. Clay and as the A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Research Fellow in Social Justice at Harvard Law School, under the supervision of Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Ms. Charles was an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.
BS: What were some of the difficulties you’ve encountered in your career? How did you overcome these obstacles?
Midwin Charles: I’d say the biggest difficulty was admitting to myself that I deserved more and should be happy with my work. It sounds cliche and corny but its the truth. Despite working at an international law firm and making a good living, I was not happy with my professional life. But I had a problem admitting that to myself. Particularly since so many people could not understand my gripe; after all, I was gainfully employed!
BS: What choices have you made that has directed you to become the successful person you are today?
Midwin Charles: Wow. So happy you think I’m a success. I’d say the choice to risk it all and leave a secure job to do things my way.
BS: What should we expect next from Midwin Charles?
Midwin Charles: Guest hosting “Express Yourself” on 107.5 WBLS, an issues-oriented talk show and contributions to various television networks.
Contact Midwin Charles:
Twitter: @MidwinCharles | @CharlesLawFirm