"I ain't never had white people in my house."
Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark in The Help
That's just one of the lines from the movie that made me cringe, and then tear up. And it made me think, which, in my mind, makes The Help a truly remarkable film. Made me think. That's good.
I wonder what I might have been like as an adult in the 1960s South. Would I have set foot in the house of a Black person, or would I have followed the unwritten, and written, laws, that the two races don't mix? Would I have, as an adult in the 1960s, had a Black maid? And would I have treated her so shabbily, all the while praising myself for being a good person?
That's the one thing that kept coming back to me. That no one, at least in that film, and at least no one other than Skeeter, ever stood up and said, "No, this is wrong."
It's wrong to look at a person of another color, another race, another language, another gender, another orientation, as being "wrong," when, in fact, they just are. They are.
I watched this movie and marveled at the idea that these people hired Black maids to cook and clean for them, to do their laundry for them, to raise, bathe, feed, clothe and wipe the asses of their children for them, and yet these maids had to have their own plates and silverware that would not get mixed up with the "regular" stuff.
And, it made me wonder, would I goosestep along like most of those people, or would I say "It's enough"? Would I build a special, separate bathroom, outside of my house, for my maid to use, because I thought she had "different" germs than white folk?
That's one of the things I kept coming back to watching the movie. The white women, and men, who were mostly nonexistent in the film, of that town, of that time, didn't want Black maids using their bathrooms, but they wanted them in every other part of their lives, and never once saw the hypocrisy.
You can raise my child, kiss on my child, love my child, but you cannot use my toilet. I mean, I know this went on. I've seen the "For whites only" signs in old magazines and such. I know there were separate lunch counters. Our local movie theater still has the "Colored" Balcony, though the sign no longer exists, and you no longer have to buy a ticket, go outside, and climb the stairs to access it.
I know that was life in those days, and I know that those men and women didn't know better. But it made me wonder, would I have known better had I lived then?
And that I'll never know, though I do know that I can make sure that we don't go back to that, and that wherever that kind of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, exists, I can say, now, that "It's enough."