So the other day there was a lively discussion on Facebook regarding the book (and movie) “The H.elp.” I was honestly quite surprised at the negative responses the book elicited from more than a few people.
People wrote about their relatives who had been domestics; about how it seemed as though we (people of color) do not tell our own stories; that if the author of the book had been black, the book wouldn’t have received the hype that it did; and that people were tired of reading about blacks in positions of servitude. One person even said their professor told them not to read The H.elp – to me, that’s all sorts of madness and unethical to boot. Teachers should encourage learning and exploration. Not censor it. Recommending books, cool. Telling students not to read something, not so cool. Moving on…
My opinion? It was a good book. The storyline was interesting, the characters were well developed and the story was well paced. I confess, I didn’t give much thought to the subject matter, and even now that I’ve thought about the subject matter, I’m not bothered by it. Truth is, many many women of color did (and do) work for white families as domestics. I’ve never been a big proponent of presenting only those stories which can be deemed positive or uplifting. I believe that there are many stories of interest to be told inside of any community.
Then I started thinking about the books I’ve read lately by black authors. Some I’ve liked, some I didn’t. I enjoyed Wench. It was about slavery. Miss Black America? Not my favorite. I don’t think I’m 10 pages into My Soul to Keep, so it’s too early to tell with that one. Most of the books I love are by black authors (John O Killens, J California Cooper, Dianne McKinney Whetstone) and I suppose that’s because their writings are, on some level, familiar to me. I do, however, appreciate books by authors of all races and refuse to limit what I read and enjoy to one type of author or subject matter.
When I choose books, I’m basically looking for a good story to read. Subject matter isn’t necessarily that important though I am drawn to mysteries, thrillers and the like. I’m not really concerned with the race of the author. If I like a book, I like it. Since the majority of what I read is fiction, I’m really just looking to be entertained. Every now and then I’ll read a auto/biography. I can’t think of the last book I read that was non-fiction and not biographical in nature.
Anyhoo, I’d like to know what you think. About The Help. About books in general. Are you upset with the way minorities (blacks, women, hispanics, etc.) are portrayed in print? Do you think too many of the books written are one-sided in their portrayals of these groups? Is this something you even consider when choosing what to read? What are you reading now? Are you enjoying it?
*There was also discussion about movies, which books are turned into movies etc., but I’m not a big movie watcher, so I limited the subject of this post to books. If you have thoughts about the movie, feel free to chime in. Will you see it, etc….*
*One more thing, and I hope this goes without saying, but I encourage open discussion. If you disagree with me? That’s cool. Don’t cuss me out, but disagree away…*