I didn’t want to share my feelings about Kathryn Stockett’s The Help because I felt others, like Roxane Gay have done it better than I could and also because I have no intention of seeing the movie, so I have no valid opinion there. But when Sam Ligon asked me twice I decided to say how I felt once and for all and be done with it. Sorry for being long winded.
I went to elementary school in Germantown, Maryland and later in Teaneck, New Jersey, both pretty liberal towns . My mother, though, never completely trusted the public education system and so I spent many summers doing book reports on books like The Autobiography of Frederick Douglas and The Story of George Washington Carver. I was able to label all of the African countries when The Democratic Republic of the Congo was still known as Zaire. When I was old enough my mother encouraged me to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X , an eye-opening book that made me wary of swallowing everything I was learning in school because Malcolm X was labelled as a radical but he had in fact died wanting peace between Muslims and Christians.
I remember once being surprised by something I found in my history text book that I pointed it out to my mother. There was a drawing of barely covered slaves standing below a man who was either the overseer or the master of those slaves and the caption read, “Slaves were treated very badly, in less than humane conditions.” I’d been to the National Great Blacks in Wax museum in Baltimore, Maryland where you could take a dozen wooden steps down to a replication of a slave ship, where it was so tight you had no choice but to stand right next to the rows of shackled feet stacked from the floor to the ceiling. I could barely breathe down there and I tried to run out but my mother made me stay, made me see.
All this back story to say, I consider myself well versed in the the African American experience but I know that I know more than most Americans. How do I know that? When news...