Today is the premier of the movie The Help, which places African American domestic workers at the center of a major motion picture – a first for Hollywood. It’s not every day that the stories of those who usually remain invisible move to the center of the screen.
But there’s another story, told in the above 2-minute video by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Fifty years after the stories told in the Hollywood film, a workforce of over 2.5 million domestic workers go to work every day to take care of the most precious elements of their employers’ lives – their homes and families. But today, domestic workers still remain an unprotected workforce, without access to basic rights that other workers take for granted. Mostly women of color, far too few domestic workers receive overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, sick leave or vacation. And far too many of them work for less than minimum wage. Too little has changed.
Support the National Domestic Workers Alliance campaign for respect, recognition, and labor standards for all domestic workers, and all of us win.
And for you movie lovers, here is the trailer for The Help.
Check out a critique of The Help from our friends at Colorlines; and remember that history is a debate.
Thanks Dr. Pop. This movie is worth seeing and the Alliance is worth supporting! Whether you agree or disagree with the Association of Black Women Historians strong critique of the movie, it is a must see.
I am so pleased that they’ve illuminated so many historical issues. I disagree, however, with their statements about certain characterizations, most notably the mammy stereotype and black men. As an African American and the editor of a text on the history of racism, I am fully aware of the dangers of these stereotypes. However, inasmuch as the film depicts Black women caring for White children, it also shows their love for their own children in a human way that many blockbuster films that deal with race and racism fall way short of doing.
Though there is a black man who abuses one of the lead characters, he is not given face-time and his malice is balanced by the courage and strength of two other male characters, a cook and a preacher.
Please read the ABWH statement here and go see the movie for yourself:
Thanks, Lezlee, for your thoughtful response. Nice to hear from you. And I certainly will see the film.