So….. for the past week I have had my head stuck in a book.
My husband’s aunt had told me about it the last time she was here and it was stuck in my head. Then I saw they were making it into a movie and I thought… I better read that book asap.
I really enjoyed this book.
The story goes into the lives of three different women, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minny are both African-Americans and maids in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter or her given name Eugenia is a white woman.
The story takes place in the 1960’s. Skeeter has just returned from college determined to be a writer. She gets the idea to write a story based on the testimonies of all the maids and their experience working with these prominent white families.
Ailbileen is the first to tell her story much to her tight-knit black community’s dismay. Despite Skeeter’s life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories — and as it turns out, they have a lot to say. Along the way, unlikely friendships are forged and a new sisterhood emerges, but not before everyone in town has a thing or two to say when they become unwittingly — and unwillingly — caught up in the changing times.
One of the main thing you will encounter when reading this book is racism.
What I found to be so amazing is that the prominent white ladies many times treated their maids like less than animals but believed so much that they were not racist. One of the main agendas for some the white women was to install a policy that every white home installs a bathroom strictly for the black workers and maids. They are not allowed to share the same bathroom, utensils, or even sit near each other.
Clearly these women were racist. They viewed the maids or any black person as “those people” but felt that because they were not beating them but had instead provided them with a job they were good people. Their intolerance is totally shocking.
What is racism? What is prejudice? I raised those questions in my head as I read this. Everyone will say they are not racist. However, racism isn’t just shown in your actions. It’s also a thought process. We might not say it but do we think it?
It isn’t just stereotypes. Its how we view these stereotypes. It’s whether we believe these stereotypes or not. And whether we let them get engraved in our way of thinking.
In some way or another, we have felt some type of prejudice. Whether it color, race, status, sexual orientation, and even gender. It has been felt in one form or another.
Sometimes we just can’t see the ignorance before our eyes.
After 9/11, any one that was an American but practiced the Muslim faith felt the repercussions of the religious terrorists from Afghanistan. I remember reading where some people destroyed a church that belonged to a Muslim community here in the States.
Or after Pearl Harbor how people reacted to the American Japanese people who lived in the US and put them in basically concentration camps.
Or just the fact that I can’t go to a car mechanic without getting ripped a new one in my wallet. They see a woman and for some reason see stupid.
There are small instances and then there are huge instances and no matter what the circumstance, it starts with our own thought process.
Another thing that intrigued me was the relationship between the children of these white families and their maids.
Aibileen for example feels that each of the children she raised and took care where in some way hers. She loved each of them. The current child she is raising in the story has developed such a deep bond with her that it even towers over the child’s love for her own mother.
It’s not just because Ailbileen is constantly with the child but because in this case the mother doesn’t view her daughter as hers but more of a bother and a responsibility. To the little girl, the only one who has ever shown her attention, love, and even self-appreciation was Aibileen.
I wonder how a mother can feel disdain for her child. This was before it was recognized as Postpartum Depression of course.
Yet, it also goes to show that there were pressures in the white community as well.
Women were reared for one thing for prominent marriages and children. It seemed there were no other alternatives in their lives. From the time they were of age, they were planning their marriage and how many children they would have.
Whether some wanted this or not or were even ready for the most part, their life was already planned for them by their parents.
In reality, there are some cultures where there is not much difference. However, its good to know that change is still happening.
We have women in congress, that serve as judges and in our military. Women who now decide for themselves how they want their lives to turn out.
I loved this book. It didn’t make me feel hate or anger but more of an understanding for this time period.
This was life at one time and the characters made the best out of situations and moved forward. They weren’t angry or spiteful. They just wanted to make a difference in their community.
That is why even nowadays, we can’t and shouldn’t fight change. Change happens for the better and regardless of whether anyone is ready for it or now.
People are fighting homosexuals having the right to be married now. Yet is it really within our ability to say no? Do we have that power?
What we do have is the power in our mind for the pursuit of happiness. And to make it possible for all people.