In perfect timeliness, I've recently finished The Help.
This debut novel by Kathryn Stockett is narrated by three Southern voices in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. Two of the narrators are maids; the third is a misfit young white woman who is unmarried but educated. Each tries to balance their lives--love, loss, family, and work--amidst political and social upheaval. Which isn't so different from now.
What is striking, though, is that the Civil Rights Movement happened only 66 years ago. During our parents' lives!
When we were kids, my dad showed us the Park Merced Apartments in San Francisco. This huge building didn't allow any African American tennants until 1971. The year I was born! Even after the Civil Rights Act was passed, discrimination was still taking place. In the west!
The Help reminded me how fortunate we are to live in a tolerant, compassionate community. Ashland is not enormously ethnically diverse, but we have vast varieties of socioeconomic status, of religion, of ages, of sexual orientation, politics, and culture.
It reminded me to keep teaching my kids the essence of the book, of humanity: that we're all just people. That we're all the same.
It reminded me about a trip to Harlem we took our kids on three years ago. Where we had to pay extra for the cabbie to drive us there. Where all the windows and doors were barred up. Where people hung out in groups on doorsteps.
When I'd asked the kids if Harlem is different from Ashland, Daney said, "Yes, really different. There's way more..." she paused, and I held my breath.
Please don't see it, I thought about The Big Difference. Don't see it yet.
Daney went on. "...There's way more...um...fried chicken restaurants."
FALL 2015 TOUR
1 year ago