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PORTSIDE  August 2011, Week 2

PORTSIDE August 2011, Week 2

Subject:

Black Female Historians Slam 'The Help'

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Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 12 Aug 2011 21:02:45 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

Black Female Historians Slam 'The Help'

By Lynette Holloway
August 12, 2011
http://www.theroot.com/buzz/black-female-historians-slam-help

The Association of Black Women Historians has joined the
tide of negative voices rising up against The Help. The
group has released a statement urging fans to reconsider
their support of the wildly popular film, saying it
portrays African-American women in subjugated roles and
relies on tired stereotypes of black men.

An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help:

On behalf of the Association of Black Women Historians
(ABWH), this statement provides historical context to
address widespread stereotyping presented in both the
film and novel version of The Help. The book has sold
over three million copies, and heavy promotion of the
movie will ensure its success at the box office. Despite
efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive
story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help
distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of
black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned
about the representations of black life and the lack of
attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights
activism.

During the 1960s, the era covered in The Help, legal
segregation and economic inequalities limited black
women's employment opportunities. Up to 90 per cent of
working black women in the South labored as domestic
servants in white homes. The Help's representation of
these women is a disappointing resurrection of Mammy --
a mythical stereotype of black women who were compelled,
either by slavery or segregation, to serve white
families. Portrayed as asexual, loyal, and contented
caretakers of whites, the caricature of Mammy allowed
mainstream America to ignore the systemic racism that
bound black women to back-breaking, low paying jobs
where employers routinely exploited them. The popularity
of this most recent iteration is troubling because it
reveals a contemporary nostalgia for the days when a
black woman could only hope to clean the White House
rather than reside in it.

Read the rest of the statement here (pdf): 
http://www.abwh.org/images/pdf/TheHelp-Statement.pdf.

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