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Help for "The Help" – The Feminist Wire

Help for "The Help"

By Gwendoline Y. Fortune, Ed. D.

Within twenty-four hours, friends sent three critical reviews of “The Help,” a film that is garnering high praise, boosting sales for the book from which it was adapted, and blasting the box office. I am very happy that this film that I will not pay to view, as I would not buy and read the novel, is receiving a particular kind of scrutiny. I am not narrow-minded or prejudiced.  I am not infuriated by “The Help.” Instead, my mental and emotional state is one of boredom. Ho hum.  If I hear of one more book or film depicting the great love a white American received from their “Mammy”—oops, sorry, I mean their “maid”—I will have no choice but to turn up the volume of a Paul Robeson recording to the highest possible level.

 So, why am I happy that the film has been made? It is because I wonder if this presentation of maid-ward relationship will, finally, stir millions of people of color to honestly react to this continued outpouring of the same story, with modest variations. Art is supposed to be creative, offering something different, or at least nuances on a theme, that says something new. More years ago than I will write here, I was a fifteen-year-old freshman at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina. I sat in my dorm room reading a book for an English assignment. I don’t remember the assignment, yet I recall looking up from the book and saying to the empty room, “Every story I read about my people we are barefoot, pregnant and in the field. There are hundreds of girls on this campus and we all speak English and wear shoes.”

Decades later, recently divorced and with my children in college, my youngest son said that it was time to write my stories. He knew that his father and I had grown up in the South, and that his life, in Illinois, was considerably different than ours. He had been taken south to visit family during the summers as he grew up. While I didn’t know what “stories” he specifically meant for me to write, I decided to take on the task.

Heeding my son’s suggestion, I researched my childhood days by going to South Carolina, spending months in the mid-sized city of Anderson, taking notes of memories and sites. I drove around town, or lay in bed at night, reminiscing. Back in the mid-west, two years later, I offered my “coming of age” novel for publication.

The result was a twelve-year odyssey of seeking an agent and publisher. One publisher wrote to my agent, “She doesn’t write the black experience.”  After, my agent was able to “sell” the story through a lackluster review by someone, I am sure a young white male, who referred to my personal account as “a subplot of an interracial love affair.”  This was the only plotline the reviewer could read in my novel Growing Up Nigger Rich, a tale of personal, social and historical significance—all because the title led him to expect something salacious and sexual.

Twelve years after I finished an acceptable draft of my manuscript, my agent was able to place it with a small publisher.  I found that I still could not breathe easily about the release, for the work was just beginning concerning the strategy for the book’s promotion. My publisher did not know how to market my work, nor did the media gate-keepers know what to do with the unusual content. A black woman with a maid, whoever heard of such a thing, and long before the days of black celebrity bling-bling? Oh no.  Many of our friends had “help.”  We traveled through the South, on vacations and professional occasions with our parents.  Despite our financial means, from South Carolina, north to Washington, DC, and again south to New Orleans, we couldn’t stay in hotels.  Instead, we stayed with any number of friends who always had “room.”

Unlike the maid in “The Help,” with her white “chile,” I was a Negro child with a Negro maid, as well. My family had a series of maids, as did many of our friends. My parents were medical professionals, in South Carolina.  They and their similarly situated friends had maids.  Some mothers were teachers or nurses, or, in my family, pharmacists. Others did not work outside of the home, yet had “help.” My father always called our housed lady, “The Cook.”  I remembered several of our maids: Louise, Julia Mae, Frances, and Mrs. Smith, the first in my memory who came to cook, clean and care for the children when I was four years old and upon my sister’s birth.  I did not change into a facsimile of Shirley, the white girl who lived across the street from our house.  There were others, whose name I have forgotten.  Julia Mae and Louise were my favorites. I lost contact with Julia Mae, but reconnected with Louise when I began to write. We remained friends until she died.

The realization did not come to me for some time that, indeed, my father’s mother had “help.” My grandmother was the wife of a small college president, and part of the tuition costs for some of the students had been to help the president’s wife. I found a page from the 1900 census at the Atlanta archives which included my grandfather, grandmother, and their two children at the time, including my father who was only ten months old. Listed on the census is name of the live-in “housekeeper.” I asked Daddy if he remembered the name of the woman listed in the census. “No,” he responded.  Instead, he named another housekeeper, one, I guess, that he liked a lot, much as I remembered the women employed in our immediate household, Julia Mae and Louise.

I write from that history. I am accused of not being black while, one after another white women write of their memories of their maids, and the effects these women had on them. Does black have to mean, only and always, being “The Help”?


Gwendoline Y. Fortune is a native of Texas, with paternal roots in the Carolinas, Gwendoline Alpha Young Fortune lived most of her life in Illinois. She is an educator, a classically trained soprano, and has traveled on five continents. Gwen wrote regular columns for suburban Illinois and North Carolina newspapers and has been guest columnist for magazines and journals.  Her published novels are, Growing Up Nigger Rich (2002) and Family Lines (2003), by Pelican Publishing with endorsements from authors Lee Smith, George Garrett, Joanna Catherine Scott and Judge Abner Mikva. Growing Up Nigger Rich is listed in the Yearbook of Literary Novels, 2002 as “Outstanding.” Dr. Fortune is an essayist, workshop leader and speaker on writing and spiritual development. Her third novel, Weaving the Journey: Noni and the Great Grands, Avisson Press, Inc, is a 200 year saga of an African American family across two hundred years.

Her awards include a Blumenthal Readers and Writers from the North Carolina Writers’ Network, QBR-Poets and Writers Toni Cade Bambara Fiction Contest. She has delivered papers at Meredith College in North Carolina, The African American Association of Historical Research and Preservation Conference at Seattle University, and elsewhere.

Dr. Fortune lives in Gainesville, Fl where she continues to write and present. Her thirteen-program radio/pod series, “We do it all, Classical Music composed and performed by people of African descent,” comes from a life as student and performer.

Dr. Fortune’s goal is to communicate a “different” perspective on American life, one that differs from the stereotypical model of people of color. Her experience as a world citizen, a reflection of African-European-Indigenous American heritage, equips her for this role. She has three adult sons and three granddaughters.

72 Comments

  1. Bea Cornelissen

    August 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This opens my eyes to a different variable on the lives of "Help" Am I considered "Help" because during my high school years, I and my girlfriend worked as "Summer Girls" for rich, families in Minneapolis and St Paul? My wages were $25 per 7 day week, a room in the attic and food after the family ate. I cleaned, baby sat for 4 kids, life guarded, ironed on a mangle. The 4 kids were told to address me as "MISS BEA". The homeowners had a cleaning lady, a white, older woman addressed as MISS SALLY. I had to assist her with her cooking and cleaning tasks.

    One of my first duties was serving dinner in the dining room. I was asked to carry in a large tray of sliced watermelon. Well, this 14 year old white kid had never served anything on a tray – the water melon slide off the tray and flew all over the table. But, the next morning after training me on how to be a food server, I still had a job.

    Where I grew up in the North, when we had a watermelon, we set it on a table outside, hecked it up and ate it outside so we could blow the seeds across the yard with our mouth.

    Because I was born at the end of depression, dad lost his job and mom worked in a dime store, our home was tar paper and cement blocks. Each time I walked up to the back door of this Mineapolis large beautiful home I would think to myself, that someday I also would live in a large beautiful home like this one. You know Gwen; I think I made it and often wonder, if this experience gave me the idea to shoot for this goal. Of course, I never had "Help" or a summer girl. Heck, I couldn't even afford a baby sitter for my 3 kids.
    Stay well Bea

  2. Bea Cornelissen

    August 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This opens my eyes to a different variable on the lives of "Help" Am I considered "Help" because during my high school years, I and my girlfriend worked as "Summer Girls" for rich, families in Minneapolis and St Paul? My wages were $25 per 7 day week, a room in the attic and food after the family ate. I cleaned, baby sat for 4 kids, life guarded, ironed on a mangle. The 4 kids were told to address me as "MISS BEA". The homeowners had a cleaning lady, a white, older woman addressed as MISS SALLY. I had to assist her with her cooking and cleaning tasks.

    One of my first duties was serving dinner in the dining room. I was asked to carry in a large tray of sliced watermelon. Well, this 14 year old white kid had never served anything on a tray – the water melon slide off the tray and flew all over the table. But, the next morning after training me on how to be a food server, I still had a job.

    Where I grew up in the North, when we had a watermelon, we set it on a table outside, hecked it up and ate it outside so we could blow the seeds across the yard with our mouth.

    Because I was born at the end of depression, dad lost his job and mom worked in a dime store, our home was tar paper and cement blocks. Each time I walked up to the back door of this Mineapolis large beautiful home I would think to myself, that someday I also would live in a large beautiful home like this one. You know Gwen; I think I made it and often wonder, if this experience gave me the idea to shoot for this goal. Of course, I never had "Help" or a summer girl. Heck, I couldn't even afford a baby sitter for my 3 kids.
    Stay well Bea

  3. Bea Cornelissen

    August 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This opens my eyes to a different variable on the lives of "Help" Am I considered "Help" because during my high school years, I and my girlfriend worked as "Summer Girls" for rich, families in Minneapolis and St Paul? My wages were $25 per 7 day week, a room in the attic and food after the family ate. I cleaned, baby sat for 4 kids, life guarded, ironed on a mangle. The 4 kids were told to address me as "MISS BEA". The homeowners had a cleaning lady, a white, older woman addressed as MISS SALLY. I had to assist her with her cooking and cleaning tasks.

    One of my first duties was serving dinner in the dining room. I was asked to carry in a large tray of sliced watermelon. Well, this 14 year old white kid had never served anything on a tray – the water melon slide off the tray and flew all over the table. But, the next morning after training me on how to be a food server, I still had a job.

    Where I grew up in the North, when we had a watermelon, we set it on a table outside, hecked it up and ate it outside so we could blow the seeds across the yard with our mouth.

    Because I was born at the end of depression, dad lost his job and mom worked in a dime store, our home was tar paper and cement blocks. Each time I walked up to the back door of this Mineapolis large beautiful home I would think to myself, that someday I also would live in a large beautiful home like this one. You know Gwen; I think I made it and often wonder, if this experience gave me the idea to shoot for this goal. Of course, I never had "Help" or a summer girl. Heck, I couldn't even afford a baby sitter for my 3 kids.
    Stay well Bea

  4. Bea Cornelissen

    August 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This opens my eyes to a different variable on the lives of "Help" Am I considered "Help" because during my high school years, I and my girlfriend worked as "Summer Girls" for rich, families in Minneapolis and St Paul? My wages were $25 per 7 day week, a room in the attic and food after the family ate. I cleaned, baby sat for 4 kids, life guarded, ironed on a mangle. The 4 kids were told to address me as "MISS BEA". The homeowners had a cleaning lady, a white, older woman addressed as MISS SALLY. I had to assist her with her cooking and cleaning tasks.

    One of my first duties was serving dinner in the dining room. I was asked to carry in a large tray of sliced watermelon. Well, this 14 year old white kid had never served anything on a tray – the water melon slide off the tray and flew all over the table. But, the next morning after training me on how to be a food server, I still had a job.

    Where I grew up in the North, when we had a watermelon, we set it on a table outside, hecked it up and ate it outside so we could blow the seeds across the yard with our mouth.

    Because I was born at the end of depression, dad lost his job and mom worked in a dime store, our home was tar paper and cement blocks. Each time I walked up to the back door of this Mineapolis large beautiful home I would think to myself, that someday I also would live in a large beautiful home like this one. You know Gwen; I think I made it and often wonder, if this experience gave me the idea to shoot for this goal. Of course, I never had "Help" or a summer girl. Heck, I couldn't even afford a baby sitter for my 3 kids.
    Stay well Bea

  5. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Bea,
    There are a few similarities and more difference in your summer experience. The people who hired you would not have considered the possibility that you could not, one day, have the "middle-class" position that you do at a college. A similar 14 year old black girl would not have been addressed as "Miss." When I returned to my former job site in Skokie, and asked to see the superintendant, I said to the clerk at the desk,I once worked in the district. She asked, " Oh, were you a secretary." "No," I said, I was the founder and Instructional Team Coordinator for Oracle House." Her jaw dropped.

    Mobility is not seen as possible for "us." A maid is a maid is a maid. Whereas it is expected and accepted for a white person. I was asked,"Did you get your education on a scholarship"-meaning "Affirmative Action. "No, my father paid for my education," I said Surprise!

    These are the kinds of inherent views and assessments based solely on color-race, not class , or previous economics.

  6. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Bea,
    There are a few similarities and more difference in your summer experience. The people who hired you would not have considered the possibility that you could not, one day, have the "middle-class" position that you do at a college. A similar 14 year old black girl would not have been addressed as "Miss." When I returned to my former job site in Skokie, and asked to see the superintendant, I said to the clerk at the desk,I once worked in the district. She asked, " Oh, were you a secretary." "No," I said, I was the founder and Instructional Team Coordinator for Oracle House." Her jaw dropped.

    Mobility is not seen as possible for "us." A maid is a maid is a maid. Whereas it is expected and accepted for a white person. I was asked,"Did you get your education on a scholarship"-meaning "Affirmative Action. "No, my father paid for my education," I said Surprise!

    These are the kinds of inherent views and assessments based solely on color-race, not class , or previous economics.

  7. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Bea,
    There are a few similarities and more difference in your summer experience. The people who hired you would not have considered the possibility that you could not, one day, have the "middle-class" position that you do at a college. A similar 14 year old black girl would not have been addressed as "Miss." When I returned to my former job site in Skokie, and asked to see the superintendant, I said to the clerk at the desk,I once worked in the district. She asked, " Oh, were you a secretary." "No," I said, I was the founder and Instructional Team Coordinator for Oracle House." Her jaw dropped.

    Mobility is not seen as possible for "us." A maid is a maid is a maid. Whereas it is expected and accepted for a white person. I was asked,"Did you get your education on a scholarship"-meaning "Affirmative Action. "No, my father paid for my education," I said Surprise!

    These are the kinds of inherent views and assessments based solely on color-race, not class , or previous economics.

  8. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 22, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Bea,
    There are a few similarities and more difference in your summer experience. The people who hired you would not have considered the possibility that you could not, one day, have the "middle-class" position that you do at a college. A similar 14 year old black girl would not have been addressed as "Miss." When I returned to my former job site in Skokie, and asked to see the superintendant, I said to the clerk at the desk,I once worked in the district. She asked, " Oh, were you a secretary." "No," I said, I was the founder and Instructional Team Coordinator for Oracle House." Her jaw dropped.

    Mobility is not seen as possible for "us." A maid is a maid is a maid. Whereas it is expected and accepted for a white person. I was asked,"Did you get your education on a scholarship"-meaning "Affirmative Action. "No, my father paid for my education," I said Surprise!

    These are the kinds of inherent views and assessments based solely on color-race, not class , or previous economics.

  9. Pamela Patton-Whalen

    August 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I am amazed at the dichotomy of being privileged [daughter of a doctor and a pharmacist] while simultaneously being treated as "less than". That must have been a very weird mixed-message from society, especially for a child. I remember when "The Cosby Show" came on television and many white people said how unlikely is it for there to be a black family with the dad being a doctor and the mom being a lawyer. Yet, there are many upper-middle class black families and they do not get noticed because they don't fit the stereotypes we have been taught by the media. I also took note that your family never referred to your "help" as the maid but addressed the ladies as the persons they were and thought they were a person just doing a job, rather than being "less than" yourselves. Great article, Gwen! I think it will open a lot of eyes!

  10. Pamela Patton-Whalen

    August 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I am amazed at the dichotomy of being privileged [daughter of a doctor and a pharmacist] while simultaneously being treated as "less than". That must have been a very weird mixed-message from society, especially for a child. I remember when "The Cosby Show" came on television and many white people said how unlikely is it for there to be a black family with the dad being a doctor and the mom being a lawyer. Yet, there are many upper-middle class black families and they do not get noticed because they don't fit the stereotypes we have been taught by the media. I also took note that your family never referred to your "help" as the maid but addressed the ladies as the persons they were and thought they were a person just doing a job, rather than being "less than" yourselves. Great article, Gwen! I think it will open a lot of eyes!

  11. Pamela Patton-Whalen

    August 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I am amazed at the dichotomy of being privileged [daughter of a doctor and a pharmacist] while simultaneously being treated as "less than". That must have been a very weird mixed-message from society, especially for a child. I remember when "The Cosby Show" came on television and many white people said how unlikely is it for there to be a black family with the dad being a doctor and the mom being a lawyer. Yet, there are many upper-middle class black families and they do not get noticed because they don't fit the stereotypes we have been taught by the media. I also took note that your family never referred to your "help" as the maid but addressed the ladies as the persons they were and thought they were a person just doing a job, rather than being "less than" yourselves. Great article, Gwen! I think it will open a lot of eyes!

  12. Pamela Patton-Whalen

    August 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I am amazed at the dichotomy of being privileged [daughter of a doctor and a pharmacist] while simultaneously being treated as "less than". That must have been a very weird mixed-message from society, especially for a child. I remember when "The Cosby Show" came on television and many white people said how unlikely is it for there to be a black family with the dad being a doctor and the mom being a lawyer. Yet, there are many upper-middle class black families and they do not get noticed because they don't fit the stereotypes we have been taught by the media. I also took note that your family never referred to your "help" as the maid but addressed the ladies as the persons they were and thought they were a person just doing a job, rather than being "less than" yourselves. Great article, Gwen! I think it will open a lot of eyes!

  13. A. J. Mayhew

    August 23, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Well, Gwen, I'm reluctant to comment here, given that your essay says, "If I hear of one more book or film depicting the great love a white American received from their “Mammy”—oops, sorry, I mean their “maid”—I will have no choice but to turn up the volume of a Paul Robeson recording to the highest possible level." Okay, tune me out. I have written one more book, as you well know, about love between an African American woman and the teenager she helped raise. Why is this story being told over and over? You might ask the same question of stories about Vietnam (or any war). Why did Tolstoy and Flaubert (and countless others) write about married women having affairs? Why are there dozens of books about career-driven white American men? These stories get told over and over because they are human experiences. Enough said on that theme.

    I'm a fan of Growing Up Nigger Rich…have been ever since I read it years ago; it is a book that opened my blue eyes. I needed to read about your life and learn how incomplete my white Southern social education was. It is indeed ludicrous for someone to have said about GUNR: "She doesn't write the black experience." Of course that editor was saying that you don't write the stereotypical black experience. Good for you, and thank God! But, Gwen, neither do I. Neither does Kathryn Stockett. Neither does Minrose Gwin in her amazing novel The Queen of Palmyra. Neither does Hillary Jordan in her dark tale, Mudbound. All these books tell of humans (white and black) sharing the same turf and trying to find a way to live together. We don't all manage it well, but unless we find a way to manage it, we're doomed. So we write about it.

    You have told your story, in GUNR, and you are tired of the way it’s been treated. I have told mine, in The Dry Grass of August, and I tire of being told it is part of: "…this continued outpouring of the same story, with modest variations." Yours is unique. Mine is unique. And if we don’t honor each other, the chasm between us will only widen. I’m not a fan of The Help because I don’t think Stockett treated her characters fairly, but I don’t deny her the right to tell her story, and won’t denigrate it as just another telling of an overdone theme.

    Thank you for your impassioned essay here in The Feminist Wire. You’ve obviously touched a nerve in me…as your writing always does…I hope we hear your voice here again.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

      A.J.
      I hope you know that my reference to another story on whites writing about blacks-ass "less than" does not refer to The Dry Grass of August. I wrote a positive review of that, as you know, at amazon.com. Dry Grass is a superior book to The Help, that went from book to screen and #one box office–being inferior to your, and other work.

      My concern, that I have tried,so often to convey, is that I respect every experience and opinion as having its own validity. My primal scream over the years has been that popular culture, taste and media are willing to expend energy and effort to showcase the most simplistic, repetitious of interpretations. it is, therefore, the documented story of the ability of majority (so far) depictions of experience that receive support and acceptance. The more nuanced, varied, and different experiences to "round-out" knowledge do not receive outlets, are poorly promoted, and, often, poorly understood by those who produce them and who view them.

      As an Interdisciplinary person, I am about holistic presentation. Your use of the varying voices is true. Apparently, there is a tiny minority who can conceive,and perceive connectivity amidst this variety.In my view, only then, will we transcend our separated perceptions–and begin to find solutions for our fragmentation.

      Voices–the cacophony–will be heard when the controlling gate-keepersrs are open to the uniqueness of the diversity in what is. Thank you!

  14. A. J. Mayhew

    August 23, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Well, Gwen, I'm reluctant to comment here, given that your essay says, "If I hear of one more book or film depicting the great love a white American received from their “Mammy”—oops, sorry, I mean their “maid”—I will have no choice but to turn up the volume of a Paul Robeson recording to the highest possible level." Okay, tune me out. I have written one more book, as you well know, about love between an African American woman and the teenager she helped raise. Why is this story being told over and over? You might ask the same question of stories about Vietnam (or any war). Why did Tolstoy and Flaubert (and countless others) write about married women having affairs? Why are there dozens of books about career-driven white American men? These stories get told over and over because they are human experiences. Enough said on that theme.

    I'm a fan of Growing Up Nigger Rich…have been ever since I read it years ago; it is a book that opened my blue eyes. I needed to read about your life and learn how incomplete my white Southern social education was. It is indeed ludicrous for someone to have said about GUNR: "She doesn't write the black experience." Of course that editor was saying that you don't write the stereotypical black experience. Good for you, and thank God! But, Gwen, neither do I. Neither does Kathryn Stockett. Neither does Minrose Gwin in her amazing novel The Queen of Palmyra. Neither does Hillary Jordan in her dark tale, Mudbound. All these books tell of humans (white and black) sharing the same turf and trying to find a way to live together. We don't all manage it well, but unless we find a way to manage it, we're doomed. So we write about it.

    You have told your story, in GUNR, and you are tired of the way it’s been treated. I have told mine, in The Dry Grass of August, and I tire of being told it is part of: "…this continued outpouring of the same story, with modest variations." Yours is unique. Mine is unique. And if we don’t honor each other, the chasm between us will only widen. I’m not a fan of The Help because I don’t think Stockett treated her characters fairly, but I don’t deny her the right to tell her story, and won’t denigrate it as just another telling of an overdone theme.

    Thank you for your impassioned essay here in The Feminist Wire. You’ve obviously touched a nerve in me…as your writing always does…I hope we hear your voice here again.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

      A.J.
      I hope you know that my reference to another story on whites writing about blacks-ass "less than" does not refer to The Dry Grass of August. I wrote a positive review of that, as you know, at amazon.com. Dry Grass is a superior book to The Help, that went from book to screen and #one box office–being inferior to your, and other work.

      My concern, that I have tried,so often to convey, is that I respect every experience and opinion as having its own validity. My primal scream over the years has been that popular culture, taste and media are willing to expend energy and effort to showcase the most simplistic, repetitious of interpretations. it is, therefore, the documented story of the ability of majority (so far) depictions of experience that receive support and acceptance. The more nuanced, varied, and different experiences to "round-out" knowledge do not receive outlets, are poorly promoted, and, often, poorly understood by those who produce them and who view them.

      As an Interdisciplinary person, I am about holistic presentation. Your use of the varying voices is true. Apparently, there is a tiny minority who can conceive,and perceive connectivity amidst this variety.In my view, only then, will we transcend our separated perceptions–and begin to find solutions for our fragmentation.

      Voices–the cacophony–will be heard when the controlling gate-keepersrs are open to the uniqueness of the diversity in what is. Thank you!

  15. A. J. Mayhew

    August 23, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Well, Gwen, I'm reluctant to comment here, given that your essay says, "If I hear of one more book or film depicting the great love a white American received from their “Mammy”—oops, sorry, I mean their “maid”—I will have no choice but to turn up the volume of a Paul Robeson recording to the highest possible level." Okay, tune me out. I have written one more book, as you well know, about love between an African American woman and the teenager she helped raise. Why is this story being told over and over? You might ask the same question of stories about Vietnam (or any war). Why did Tolstoy and Flaubert (and countless others) write about married women having affairs? Why are there dozens of books about career-driven white American men? These stories get told over and over because they are human experiences. Enough said on that theme.

    I'm a fan of Growing Up Nigger Rich…have been ever since I read it years ago; it is a book that opened my blue eyes. I needed to read about your life and learn how incomplete my white Southern social education was. It is indeed ludicrous for someone to have said about GUNR: "She doesn't write the black experience." Of course that editor was saying that you don't write the stereotypical black experience. Good for you, and thank God! But, Gwen, neither do I. Neither does Kathryn Stockett. Neither does Minrose Gwin in her amazing novel The Queen of Palmyra. Neither does Hillary Jordan in her dark tale, Mudbound. All these books tell of humans (white and black) sharing the same turf and trying to find a way to live together. We don't all manage it well, but unless we find a way to manage it, we're doomed. So we write about it.

    You have told your story, in GUNR, and you are tired of the way it’s been treated. I have told mine, in The Dry Grass of August, and I tire of being told it is part of: "…this continued outpouring of the same story, with modest variations." Yours is unique. Mine is unique. And if we don’t honor each other, the chasm between us will only widen. I’m not a fan of The Help because I don’t think Stockett treated her characters fairly, but I don’t deny her the right to tell her story, and won’t denigrate it as just another telling of an overdone theme.

    Thank you for your impassioned essay here in The Feminist Wire. You’ve obviously touched a nerve in me…as your writing always does…I hope we hear your voice here again.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

      A.J.
      I hope you know that my reference to another story on whites writing about blacks-ass "less than" does not refer to The Dry Grass of August. I wrote a positive review of that, as you know, at amazon.com. Dry Grass is a superior book to The Help, that went from book to screen and #one box office–being inferior to your, and other work.

      My concern, that I have tried,so often to convey, is that I respect every experience and opinion as having its own validity. My primal scream over the years has been that popular culture, taste and media are willing to expend energy and effort to showcase the most simplistic, repetitious of interpretations. it is, therefore, the documented story of the ability of majority (so far) depictions of experience that receive support and acceptance. The more nuanced, varied, and different experiences to "round-out" knowledge do not receive outlets, are poorly promoted, and, often, poorly understood by those who produce them and who view them.

      As an Interdisciplinary person, I am about holistic presentation. Your use of the varying voices is true. Apparently, there is a tiny minority who can conceive,and perceive connectivity amidst this variety.In my view, only then, will we transcend our separated perceptions–and begin to find solutions for our fragmentation.

      Voices–the cacophony–will be heard when the controlling gate-keepersrs are open to the uniqueness of the diversity in what is. Thank you!

  16. A. J. Mayhew

    August 23, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Well, Gwen, I'm reluctant to comment here, given that your essay says, "If I hear of one more book or film depicting the great love a white American received from their “Mammy”—oops, sorry, I mean their “maid”—I will have no choice but to turn up the volume of a Paul Robeson recording to the highest possible level." Okay, tune me out. I have written one more book, as you well know, about love between an African American woman and the teenager she helped raise. Why is this story being told over and over? You might ask the same question of stories about Vietnam (or any war). Why did Tolstoy and Flaubert (and countless others) write about married women having affairs? Why are there dozens of books about career-driven white American men? These stories get told over and over because they are human experiences. Enough said on that theme.

    I'm a fan of Growing Up Nigger Rich…have been ever since I read it years ago; it is a book that opened my blue eyes. I needed to read about your life and learn how incomplete my white Southern social education was. It is indeed ludicrous for someone to have said about GUNR: "She doesn't write the black experience." Of course that editor was saying that you don't write the stereotypical black experience. Good for you, and thank God! But, Gwen, neither do I. Neither does Kathryn Stockett. Neither does Minrose Gwin in her amazing novel The Queen of Palmyra. Neither does Hillary Jordan in her dark tale, Mudbound. All these books tell of humans (white and black) sharing the same turf and trying to find a way to live together. We don't all manage it well, but unless we find a way to manage it, we're doomed. So we write about it.

    You have told your story, in GUNR, and you are tired of the way it’s been treated. I have told mine, in The Dry Grass of August, and I tire of being told it is part of: "…this continued outpouring of the same story, with modest variations." Yours is unique. Mine is unique. And if we don’t honor each other, the chasm between us will only widen. I’m not a fan of The Help because I don’t think Stockett treated her characters fairly, but I don’t deny her the right to tell her story, and won’t denigrate it as just another telling of an overdone theme.

    Thank you for your impassioned essay here in The Feminist Wire. You’ve obviously touched a nerve in me…as your writing always does…I hope we hear your voice here again.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

      A.J.
      I hope you know that my reference to another story on whites writing about blacks-ass "less than" does not refer to The Dry Grass of August. I wrote a positive review of that, as you know, at amazon.com. Dry Grass is a superior book to The Help, that went from book to screen and #one box office–being inferior to your, and other work.

      My concern, that I have tried,so often to convey, is that I respect every experience and opinion as having its own validity. My primal scream over the years has been that popular culture, taste and media are willing to expend energy and effort to showcase the most simplistic, repetitious of interpretations. it is, therefore, the documented story of the ability of majority (so far) depictions of experience that receive support and acceptance. The more nuanced, varied, and different experiences to "round-out" knowledge do not receive outlets, are poorly promoted, and, often, poorly understood by those who produce them and who view them.

      As an Interdisciplinary person, I am about holistic presentation. Your use of the varying voices is true. Apparently, there is a tiny minority who can conceive,and perceive connectivity amidst this variety.In my view, only then, will we transcend our separated perceptions–and begin to find solutions for our fragmentation.

      Voices–the cacophony–will be heard when the controlling gate-keepersrs are open to the uniqueness of the diversity in what is. Thank you!

  17. Jan Maher

    August 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I would love to see a film showing that world of traveling "through the South, on vacations and professional occasions with our parents. Despite our financial means, from South Carolina, north to Washington, DC, and again south to New Orleans, we couldn’t stay in hotels. Instead, we stayed with any number of friends who always had “room.”" I know it is a story that is/was shared by many and perhaps more importantly is a story that needs to be heard/seen by multitudes.

    I have not read the book nor seen the movie "The Help," and your review confirms for me that it is a "been there, done that" Hollywoodification I can happily miss. If I want that treatment of history, I can just watch "Song of the South" again!

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

      I do not think that many are aware that most–if not all of what the media offers are relatively incremental variations on the theme. What you allude to is a "blow-out" of variations. There have been awesome expositions of greater variety, but the gate-keepers say that's "not what the public wants." They are unaware of their role in creating this "public," one that has grown more and ore "dumbed-down during just my lifetime. Mediocrity is the voice of the majority. Jefferson wrote of the need for an educated citizenry.

  18. Jan Maher

    August 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I would love to see a film showing that world of traveling "through the South, on vacations and professional occasions with our parents. Despite our financial means, from South Carolina, north to Washington, DC, and again south to New Orleans, we couldn’t stay in hotels. Instead, we stayed with any number of friends who always had “room.”" I know it is a story that is/was shared by many and perhaps more importantly is a story that needs to be heard/seen by multitudes.

    I have not read the book nor seen the movie "The Help," and your review confirms for me that it is a "been there, done that" Hollywoodification I can happily miss. If I want that treatment of history, I can just watch "Song of the South" again!

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

      I do not think that many are aware that most–if not all of what the media offers are relatively incremental variations on the theme. What you allude to is a "blow-out" of variations. There have been awesome expositions of greater variety, but the gate-keepers say that's "not what the public wants." They are unaware of their role in creating this "public," one that has grown more and ore "dumbed-down during just my lifetime. Mediocrity is the voice of the majority. Jefferson wrote of the need for an educated citizenry.

  19. Jan Maher

    August 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I would love to see a film showing that world of traveling "through the South, on vacations and professional occasions with our parents. Despite our financial means, from South Carolina, north to Washington, DC, and again south to New Orleans, we couldn’t stay in hotels. Instead, we stayed with any number of friends who always had “room.”" I know it is a story that is/was shared by many and perhaps more importantly is a story that needs to be heard/seen by multitudes.

    I have not read the book nor seen the movie "The Help," and your review confirms for me that it is a "been there, done that" Hollywoodification I can happily miss. If I want that treatment of history, I can just watch "Song of the South" again!

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

      I do not think that many are aware that most–if not all of what the media offers are relatively incremental variations on the theme. What you allude to is a "blow-out" of variations. There have been awesome expositions of greater variety, but the gate-keepers say that's "not what the public wants." They are unaware of their role in creating this "public," one that has grown more and ore "dumbed-down during just my lifetime. Mediocrity is the voice of the majority. Jefferson wrote of the need for an educated citizenry.

  20. Jan Maher

    August 23, 2011 at 4:44 am

    I would love to see a film showing that world of traveling "through the South, on vacations and professional occasions with our parents. Despite our financial means, from South Carolina, north to Washington, DC, and again south to New Orleans, we couldn’t stay in hotels. Instead, we stayed with any number of friends who always had “room.”" I know it is a story that is/was shared by many and perhaps more importantly is a story that needs to be heard/seen by multitudes.

    I have not read the book nor seen the movie "The Help," and your review confirms for me that it is a "been there, done that" Hollywoodification I can happily miss. If I want that treatment of history, I can just watch "Song of the South" again!

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

      I do not think that many are aware that most–if not all of what the media offers are relatively incremental variations on the theme. What you allude to is a "blow-out" of variations. There have been awesome expositions of greater variety, but the gate-keepers say that's "not what the public wants." They are unaware of their role in creating this "public," one that has grown more and ore "dumbed-down during just my lifetime. Mediocrity is the voice of the majority. Jefferson wrote of the need for an educated citizenry.

  21. Everett Prewitt

    August 23, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Gwen, you are on point. I and my girlfriend read The Help before the hoopla. When the rave reviews began flowing, I wondered if I had missed something. This is story that's been told many times before. In this book, the relationships are plastic and barely deal with the impact of a racist environment outside of the homes the maids kept. I also understand that only one black male remained in the movie. Of course he was the abusive one. So we have a so so book made into a bad movie that I understand is saved by a black maid (Viola Davis. Why does such a good actress have to play a maid in 2011?

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

      You know, of course, that Hollywood will only offer Miss Davis the roles THEY can visualize. If we find a copy of Gone With the Wind, the signifed and talented Hattie McDaniels is the precursor for Miss Dvis.

      Sometimes I watch TCM and see talented actresses and actors playing the same role seven decades ago, and these "producers" think they are "up-to-date."
      Now, we must tell "the media"–all of them-that there are more ways of thinking, viewing, reading, being–and even making money.

    • Pamela Patton-Whalen

      August 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

      There was also the black male gardener of Skeeter's family. She greets him by name upon returning home and he is in the scene where they are watching news footage and the mother comes in and turns off the television. Very small part but he gives the impression of a kindly older gentleman.

  22. Everett Prewitt

    August 23, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Gwen, you are on point. I and my girlfriend read The Help before the hoopla. When the rave reviews began flowing, I wondered if I had missed something. This is story that's been told many times before. In this book, the relationships are plastic and barely deal with the impact of a racist environment outside of the homes the maids kept. I also understand that only one black male remained in the movie. Of course he was the abusive one. So we have a so so book made into a bad movie that I understand is saved by a black maid (Viola Davis. Why does such a good actress have to play a maid in 2011?

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

      You know, of course, that Hollywood will only offer Miss Davis the roles THEY can visualize. If we find a copy of Gone With the Wind, the signifed and talented Hattie McDaniels is the precursor for Miss Dvis.

      Sometimes I watch TCM and see talented actresses and actors playing the same role seven decades ago, and these "producers" think they are "up-to-date."
      Now, we must tell "the media"–all of them-that there are more ways of thinking, viewing, reading, being–and even making money.

    • Pamela Patton-Whalen

      August 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

      There was also the black male gardener of Skeeter's family. She greets him by name upon returning home and he is in the scene where they are watching news footage and the mother comes in and turns off the television. Very small part but he gives the impression of a kindly older gentleman.

  23. Everett Prewitt

    August 23, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Gwen, you are on point. I and my girlfriend read The Help before the hoopla. When the rave reviews began flowing, I wondered if I had missed something. This is story that's been told many times before. In this book, the relationships are plastic and barely deal with the impact of a racist environment outside of the homes the maids kept. I also understand that only one black male remained in the movie. Of course he was the abusive one. So we have a so so book made into a bad movie that I understand is saved by a black maid (Viola Davis. Why does such a good actress have to play a maid in 2011?

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

      You know, of course, that Hollywood will only offer Miss Davis the roles THEY can visualize. If we find a copy of Gone With the Wind, the signifed and talented Hattie McDaniels is the precursor for Miss Dvis.

      Sometimes I watch TCM and see talented actresses and actors playing the same role seven decades ago, and these "producers" think they are "up-to-date."
      Now, we must tell "the media"–all of them-that there are more ways of thinking, viewing, reading, being–and even making money.

    • Pamela Patton-Whalen

      August 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

      There was also the black male gardener of Skeeter's family. She greets him by name upon returning home and he is in the scene where they are watching news footage and the mother comes in and turns off the television. Very small part but he gives the impression of a kindly older gentleman.

  24. Everett Prewitt

    August 23, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Gwen, you are on point. I and my girlfriend read The Help before the hoopla. When the rave reviews began flowing, I wondered if I had missed something. This is story that's been told many times before. In this book, the relationships are plastic and barely deal with the impact of a racist environment outside of the homes the maids kept. I also understand that only one black male remained in the movie. Of course he was the abusive one. So we have a so so book made into a bad movie that I understand is saved by a black maid (Viola Davis. Why does such a good actress have to play a maid in 2011?

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 6:03 am

      You know, of course, that Hollywood will only offer Miss Davis the roles THEY can visualize. If we find a copy of Gone With the Wind, the signifed and talented Hattie McDaniels is the precursor for Miss Dvis.

      Sometimes I watch TCM and see talented actresses and actors playing the same role seven decades ago, and these "producers" think they are "up-to-date."
      Now, we must tell "the media"–all of them-that there are more ways of thinking, viewing, reading, being–and even making money.

    • Pamela Patton-Whalen

      August 23, 2011 at 9:19 am

      There was also the black male gardener of Skeeter's family. She greets him by name upon returning home and he is in the scene where they are watching news footage and the mother comes in and turns off the television. Very small part but he gives the impression of a kindly older gentleman.

  25. John Lovetere

    August 23, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Gwen, I rely on you for guidance in matters racial, but I have a different take on this one. I know it matters to you, but as a clueless, white male, if I can be shown injustice and opt for justice, then it matters not to me whether my instructor is black or white, for the end to be sought is JUSTICE.

  26. John Lovetere

    August 23, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Gwen, I rely on you for guidance in matters racial, but I have a different take on this one. I know it matters to you, but as a clueless, white male, if I can be shown injustice and opt for justice, then it matters not to me whether my instructor is black or white, for the end to be sought is JUSTICE.

  27. John Lovetere

    August 23, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Gwen, I rely on you for guidance in matters racial, but I have a different take on this one. I know it matters to you, but as a clueless, white male, if I can be shown injustice and opt for justice, then it matters not to me whether my instructor is black or white, for the end to be sought is JUSTICE.

  28. John Lovetere

    August 23, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Gwen, I rely on you for guidance in matters racial, but I have a different take on this one. I know it matters to you, but as a clueless, white male, if I can be shown injustice and opt for justice, then it matters not to me whether my instructor is black or white, for the end to be sought is JUSTICE.

  29. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

    John,
    Of course you have "a different take." That is precisely my argument. And, you re far from clueless. We all choose, unconsciously,then consciously, how we will respond to a situation. Most people are not as clear as you on the justice-injustice continuum. What is justice for the diner is not justice for the chicken. When millions of Americans BELIEVE that slavery was benign, that there was no residue of that institution from its end, 1864 to today, that because the Civil Rights Laws TRIED to redress hundreds of years of unfair limitation on people of color (not to exclude from the totality the poor of any ethnicity/gender)that there is "reverse discrimination," and "nobody ever gave me affirmative action," their image of justice is incomplete. This film follows the tradition of denial of the effects of limitation. Personally, I do not sanguinely accept the refusal of a dominant cultural more that denies work like mine, and many others access to the same kind of promotion as The Help. Given endorsements by highly competent writers, better, more inclusive depictions have been and are available for reading and viewing. Justice is not black and white. Justice is a result of many factors, among them are awareness, knowledge and empathy. JUSTICE is abrogated by the absence of those factors in our market economy-society. Having ONLY The Help, that passes the censors of popular information, denies justice. Birth of a Nation was just a movie! It sparked and fueled generations of genocide. There is no balance, no justice, in the servant-master, bottom-up persistence.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

      PS,
      In many cases I have been one of the fortunate people of color. My concern is for the millions who have not–are not–will not be as fortunate as I have been. With the help of The Help and other single-sided, #one box office movies, denial, injustice and limitation will continue.

      This is an aspect of justice and freedom for all, not merely black Americans–freedom of access to information and context.

  30. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

    John,
    Of course you have "a different take." That is precisely my argument. And, you re far from clueless. We all choose, unconsciously,then consciously, how we will respond to a situation. Most people are not as clear as you on the justice-injustice continuum. What is justice for the diner is not justice for the chicken. When millions of Americans BELIEVE that slavery was benign, that there was no residue of that institution from its end, 1864 to today, that because the Civil Rights Laws TRIED to redress hundreds of years of unfair limitation on people of color (not to exclude from the totality the poor of any ethnicity/gender)that there is "reverse discrimination," and "nobody ever gave me affirmative action," their image of justice is incomplete. This film follows the tradition of denial of the effects of limitation. Personally, I do not sanguinely accept the refusal of a dominant cultural more that denies work like mine, and many others access to the same kind of promotion as The Help. Given endorsements by highly competent writers, better, more inclusive depictions have been and are available for reading and viewing. Justice is not black and white. Justice is a result of many factors, among them are awareness, knowledge and empathy. JUSTICE is abrogated by the absence of those factors in our market economy-society. Having ONLY The Help, that passes the censors of popular information, denies justice. Birth of a Nation was just a movie! It sparked and fueled generations of genocide. There is no balance, no justice, in the servant-master, bottom-up persistence.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

      PS,
      In many cases I have been one of the fortunate people of color. My concern is for the millions who have not–are not–will not be as fortunate as I have been. With the help of The Help and other single-sided, #one box office movies, denial, injustice and limitation will continue.

      This is an aspect of justice and freedom for all, not merely black Americans–freedom of access to information and context.

  31. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

    John,
    Of course you have "a different take." That is precisely my argument. And, you re far from clueless. We all choose, unconsciously,then consciously, how we will respond to a situation. Most people are not as clear as you on the justice-injustice continuum. What is justice for the diner is not justice for the chicken. When millions of Americans BELIEVE that slavery was benign, that there was no residue of that institution from its end, 1864 to today, that because the Civil Rights Laws TRIED to redress hundreds of years of unfair limitation on people of color (not to exclude from the totality the poor of any ethnicity/gender)that there is "reverse discrimination," and "nobody ever gave me affirmative action," their image of justice is incomplete. This film follows the tradition of denial of the effects of limitation. Personally, I do not sanguinely accept the refusal of a dominant cultural more that denies work like mine, and many others access to the same kind of promotion as The Help. Given endorsements by highly competent writers, better, more inclusive depictions have been and are available for reading and viewing. Justice is not black and white. Justice is a result of many factors, among them are awareness, knowledge and empathy. JUSTICE is abrogated by the absence of those factors in our market economy-society. Having ONLY The Help, that passes the censors of popular information, denies justice. Birth of a Nation was just a movie! It sparked and fueled generations of genocide. There is no balance, no justice, in the servant-master, bottom-up persistence.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

      PS,
      In many cases I have been one of the fortunate people of color. My concern is for the millions who have not–are not–will not be as fortunate as I have been. With the help of The Help and other single-sided, #one box office movies, denial, injustice and limitation will continue.

      This is an aspect of justice and freedom for all, not merely black Americans–freedom of access to information and context.

  32. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 8:30 am

    John,
    Of course you have "a different take." That is precisely my argument. And, you re far from clueless. We all choose, unconsciously,then consciously, how we will respond to a situation. Most people are not as clear as you on the justice-injustice continuum. What is justice for the diner is not justice for the chicken. When millions of Americans BELIEVE that slavery was benign, that there was no residue of that institution from its end, 1864 to today, that because the Civil Rights Laws TRIED to redress hundreds of years of unfair limitation on people of color (not to exclude from the totality the poor of any ethnicity/gender)that there is "reverse discrimination," and "nobody ever gave me affirmative action," their image of justice is incomplete. This film follows the tradition of denial of the effects of limitation. Personally, I do not sanguinely accept the refusal of a dominant cultural more that denies work like mine, and many others access to the same kind of promotion as The Help. Given endorsements by highly competent writers, better, more inclusive depictions have been and are available for reading and viewing. Justice is not black and white. Justice is a result of many factors, among them are awareness, knowledge and empathy. JUSTICE is abrogated by the absence of those factors in our market economy-society. Having ONLY The Help, that passes the censors of popular information, denies justice. Birth of a Nation was just a movie! It sparked and fueled generations of genocide. There is no balance, no justice, in the servant-master, bottom-up persistence.

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

      PS,
      In many cases I have been one of the fortunate people of color. My concern is for the millions who have not–are not–will not be as fortunate as I have been. With the help of The Help and other single-sided, #one box office movies, denial, injustice and limitation will continue.

      This is an aspect of justice and freedom for all, not merely black Americans–freedom of access to information and context.

  33. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    As I read replies to the coverage of The Help" at many sites across the new communication source, The Internet, I find myself "concluding" my involvement as follows I do not think there is more I can say. I thank thefeministwire.com for the opportunity, and the readers. Would that we can be productive.
    This entire episode is wearing on me. It is, yet, another, the most current, nail, reminding that the rule of separation, under the constraints of human lack–or is it inability–to be fully, body-mind-spirt aware. The consequences of the human state of evolution is a tiresome struggle by those who would advance the species beyond
    its either-or servitude, master-slave perceptions, conceptions, and ACTIONS.

    This is a battle, part of the war–that I became aware of when I was about seven. A white neighbor called the police on my four or five friends and me for having an argument with her daughter. I won,
    but I began to comprehend the "rule." I have many stories, for I have "eye" of a griot.

    I have spent my live questioning, studying, experiencing, seeking answers to human limitation and denial.

    In my observation, it seems that, scientifically *as in "to seek to know") the ancient brain stem sees and feels separation. It denies unity–regardless of all the words of all the great spiritual traditions and lessons. Despite the findings of quantum mechanics,cosmology, genetics, anthropology, history, any and ALL inquiries into existence. Our species is controlled by "Don't confuse me with evidence that interferes
    with my fear feelings." Hence the myth of lemmings rushing to the sea becomes our reality.

    Like the boy in the Terminix commercial who says,"We're doomed," I would LOVE to say there can be change-escape–wholeness. This is said, daily, with less and less "hope," that fantasy that Pandora
    released. All that is needed to re-awaken is an eruption like "The Help," and what is in its minor volcano. Do we deny and ignore the rumbling? Thanks and bye.

  34. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    As I read replies to the coverage of The Help" at many sites across the new communication source, The Internet, I find myself "concluding" my involvement as follows I do not think there is more I can say. I thank thefeministwire.com for the opportunity, and the readers. Would that we can be productive.
    This entire episode is wearing on me. It is, yet, another, the most current, nail, reminding that the rule of separation, under the constraints of human lack–or is it inability–to be fully, body-mind-spirt aware. The consequences of the human state of evolution is a tiresome struggle by those who would advance the species beyond
    its either-or servitude, master-slave perceptions, conceptions, and ACTIONS.

    This is a battle, part of the war–that I became aware of when I was about seven. A white neighbor called the police on my four or five friends and me for having an argument with her daughter. I won,
    but I began to comprehend the "rule." I have many stories, for I have "eye" of a griot.

    I have spent my live questioning, studying, experiencing, seeking answers to human limitation and denial.

    In my observation, it seems that, scientifically *as in "to seek to know") the ancient brain stem sees and feels separation. It denies unity–regardless of all the words of all the great spiritual traditions and lessons. Despite the findings of quantum mechanics,cosmology, genetics, anthropology, history, any and ALL inquiries into existence. Our species is controlled by "Don't confuse me with evidence that interferes
    with my fear feelings." Hence the myth of lemmings rushing to the sea becomes our reality.

    Like the boy in the Terminix commercial who says,"We're doomed," I would LOVE to say there can be change-escape–wholeness. This is said, daily, with less and less "hope," that fantasy that Pandora
    released. All that is needed to re-awaken is an eruption like "The Help," and what is in its minor volcano. Do we deny and ignore the rumbling? Thanks and bye.

  35. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    As I read replies to the coverage of The Help" at many sites across the new communication source, The Internet, I find myself "concluding" my involvement as follows I do not think there is more I can say. I thank thefeministwire.com for the opportunity, and the readers. Would that we can be productive.
    This entire episode is wearing on me. It is, yet, another, the most current, nail, reminding that the rule of separation, under the constraints of human lack–or is it inability–to be fully, body-mind-spirt aware. The consequences of the human state of evolution is a tiresome struggle by those who would advance the species beyond
    its either-or servitude, master-slave perceptions, conceptions, and ACTIONS.

    This is a battle, part of the war–that I became aware of when I was about seven. A white neighbor called the police on my four or five friends and me for having an argument with her daughter. I won,
    but I began to comprehend the "rule." I have many stories, for I have "eye" of a griot.

    I have spent my live questioning, studying, experiencing, seeking answers to human limitation and denial.

    In my observation, it seems that, scientifically *as in "to seek to know") the ancient brain stem sees and feels separation. It denies unity–regardless of all the words of all the great spiritual traditions and lessons. Despite the findings of quantum mechanics,cosmology, genetics, anthropology, history, any and ALL inquiries into existence. Our species is controlled by "Don't confuse me with evidence that interferes
    with my fear feelings." Hence the myth of lemmings rushing to the sea becomes our reality.

    Like the boy in the Terminix commercial who says,"We're doomed," I would LOVE to say there can be change-escape–wholeness. This is said, daily, with less and less "hope," that fantasy that Pandora
    released. All that is needed to re-awaken is an eruption like "The Help," and what is in its minor volcano. Do we deny and ignore the rumbling? Thanks and bye.

  36. Gwendoline Y. Fortun

    August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    As I read replies to the coverage of The Help" at many sites across the new communication source, The Internet, I find myself "concluding" my involvement as follows I do not think there is more I can say. I thank thefeministwire.com for the opportunity, and the readers. Would that we can be productive.
    This entire episode is wearing on me. It is, yet, another, the most current, nail, reminding that the rule of separation, under the constraints of human lack–or is it inability–to be fully, body-mind-spirt aware. The consequences of the human state of evolution is a tiresome struggle by those who would advance the species beyond
    its either-or servitude, master-slave perceptions, conceptions, and ACTIONS.

    This is a battle, part of the war–that I became aware of when I was about seven. A white neighbor called the police on my four or five friends and me for having an argument with her daughter. I won,
    but I began to comprehend the "rule." I have many stories, for I have "eye" of a griot.

    I have spent my live questioning, studying, experiencing, seeking answers to human limitation and denial.

    In my observation, it seems that, scientifically *as in "to seek to know") the ancient brain stem sees and feels separation. It denies unity–regardless of all the words of all the great spiritual traditions and lessons. Despite the findings of quantum mechanics,cosmology, genetics, anthropology, history, any and ALL inquiries into existence. Our species is controlled by "Don't confuse me with evidence that interferes
    with my fear feelings." Hence the myth of lemmings rushing to the sea becomes our reality.

    Like the boy in the Terminix commercial who says,"We're doomed," I would LOVE to say there can be change-escape–wholeness. This is said, daily, with less and less "hope," that fantasy that Pandora
    released. All that is needed to re-awaken is an eruption like "The Help," and what is in its minor volcano. Do we deny and ignore the rumbling? Thanks and bye.

  37. Luisah Teish

    August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Alafia Gwen:
    This is a note from Teish. This is a call for positive action.
    There's a couple of things that I'd like to see come out of this flurry over "The Help".
    I am the daughter of a domestic worker in the segregated South. My mother was a maid, cook, baby sitter, and confidant to both Italian and Jewish women in New Orleans during the 50"s. She had a variety of experiences that are worth recounting. Most of them were the typical racist dangers of the South: exploitation, insult, the threat of violence. Some of them were those rare occasions when our common humanity penetrated the veil of societal dictates and allowed these women to behave like women:the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, a hurricane.
    I grew up and served as a "hired helper" in the homes of local Black women (which was more of an auntie relationship with an allowance attached), as a "servant of the lord", that is, a slave in the convent at the Catholic school. As a teen I worked as a baby-sitter in the homes of "trashy white women"in southern california, as a "hired experiment" in the schools, as a "maid" in high class hotels in Palm Springs and as a "personal assistant" to liberal white women in northern california. I know what it is to be "the affirmative action girl" in white women's organizations and the "expendable crew member" in organizations dominated by Black men.
    So I'd really like to see this enblazoned discussion about "The Help" turn into a community forum wherein those who have been "The Help" and those who have hired "The Help" enter into dialogue about the subject. I'd like these discussions to facilitate a change in social attitudes toward "Those Who Serve".
    Let it lead to an examination of how much money is earned by who doing what? Let it open some eyes to the economic and political needs of "The Help". Let it lead to some changes in the laws that impact "The Help". And for those who are willing to face the ramifications of position and privilege let us look each other in the eye and tell the truth about our condition as women in this culture.
    The other thing I'd really like to see is a committee of people in film (black,white and blue), with money, and talent, who are willing to produce material such as your book ( and a dozen others I could name) and audiences of people (black,white and purple) who are willing to have more discussions about content,style, and relevance and take this art out of its degenerate condition and turn it into a tool for "edutainment".
    And lastly Gwen would you consider rendering your book into a stageplay?

    Think about it and let me kno what you feel. Teish

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 25, 2011 at 2:12 am

      I wrote a reply but it seems to have returned to "space." I totally agree. Where are WE? Help!

  38. Luisah Teish

    August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Alafia Gwen:
    This is a note from Teish. This is a call for positive action.
    There's a couple of things that I'd like to see come out of this flurry over "The Help".
    I am the daughter of a domestic worker in the segregated South. My mother was a maid, cook, baby sitter, and confidant to both Italian and Jewish women in New Orleans during the 50"s. She had a variety of experiences that are worth recounting. Most of them were the typical racist dangers of the South: exploitation, insult, the threat of violence. Some of them were those rare occasions when our common humanity penetrated the veil of societal dictates and allowed these women to behave like women:the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, a hurricane.
    I grew up and served as a "hired helper" in the homes of local Black women (which was more of an auntie relationship with an allowance attached), as a "servant of the lord", that is, a slave in the convent at the Catholic school. As a teen I worked as a baby-sitter in the homes of "trashy white women"in southern california, as a "hired experiment" in the schools, as a "maid" in high class hotels in Palm Springs and as a "personal assistant" to liberal white women in northern california. I know what it is to be "the affirmative action girl" in white women's organizations and the "expendable crew member" in organizations dominated by Black men.
    So I'd really like to see this enblazoned discussion about "The Help" turn into a community forum wherein those who have been "The Help" and those who have hired "The Help" enter into dialogue about the subject. I'd like these discussions to facilitate a change in social attitudes toward "Those Who Serve".
    Let it lead to an examination of how much money is earned by who doing what? Let it open some eyes to the economic and political needs of "The Help". Let it lead to some changes in the laws that impact "The Help". And for those who are willing to face the ramifications of position and privilege let us look each other in the eye and tell the truth about our condition as women in this culture.
    The other thing I'd really like to see is a committee of people in film (black,white and blue), with money, and talent, who are willing to produce material such as your book ( and a dozen others I could name) and audiences of people (black,white and purple) who are willing to have more discussions about content,style, and relevance and take this art out of its degenerate condition and turn it into a tool for "edutainment".
    And lastly Gwen would you consider rendering your book into a stageplay?

    Think about it and let me kno what you feel. Teish

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 25, 2011 at 2:12 am

      I wrote a reply but it seems to have returned to "space." I totally agree. Where are WE? Help!

  39. Luisah Teish

    August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Alafia Gwen:
    This is a note from Teish. This is a call for positive action.
    There's a couple of things that I'd like to see come out of this flurry over "The Help".
    I am the daughter of a domestic worker in the segregated South. My mother was a maid, cook, baby sitter, and confidant to both Italian and Jewish women in New Orleans during the 50"s. She had a variety of experiences that are worth recounting. Most of them were the typical racist dangers of the South: exploitation, insult, the threat of violence. Some of them were those rare occasions when our common humanity penetrated the veil of societal dictates and allowed these women to behave like women:the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, a hurricane.
    I grew up and served as a "hired helper" in the homes of local Black women (which was more of an auntie relationship with an allowance attached), as a "servant of the lord", that is, a slave in the convent at the Catholic school. As a teen I worked as a baby-sitter in the homes of "trashy white women"in southern california, as a "hired experiment" in the schools, as a "maid" in high class hotels in Palm Springs and as a "personal assistant" to liberal white women in northern california. I know what it is to be "the affirmative action girl" in white women's organizations and the "expendable crew member" in organizations dominated by Black men.
    So I'd really like to see this enblazoned discussion about "The Help" turn into a community forum wherein those who have been "The Help" and those who have hired "The Help" enter into dialogue about the subject. I'd like these discussions to facilitate a change in social attitudes toward "Those Who Serve".
    Let it lead to an examination of how much money is earned by who doing what? Let it open some eyes to the economic and political needs of "The Help". Let it lead to some changes in the laws that impact "The Help". And for those who are willing to face the ramifications of position and privilege let us look each other in the eye and tell the truth about our condition as women in this culture.
    The other thing I'd really like to see is a committee of people in film (black,white and blue), with money, and talent, who are willing to produce material such as your book ( and a dozen others I could name) and audiences of people (black,white and purple) who are willing to have more discussions about content,style, and relevance and take this art out of its degenerate condition and turn it into a tool for "edutainment".
    And lastly Gwen would you consider rendering your book into a stageplay?

    Think about it and let me kno what you feel. Teish

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 25, 2011 at 2:12 am

      I wrote a reply but it seems to have returned to "space." I totally agree. Where are WE? Help!

  40. Luisah Teish

    August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Alafia Gwen:
    This is a note from Teish. This is a call for positive action.
    There's a couple of things that I'd like to see come out of this flurry over "The Help".
    I am the daughter of a domestic worker in the segregated South. My mother was a maid, cook, baby sitter, and confidant to both Italian and Jewish women in New Orleans during the 50"s. She had a variety of experiences that are worth recounting. Most of them were the typical racist dangers of the South: exploitation, insult, the threat of violence. Some of them were those rare occasions when our common humanity penetrated the veil of societal dictates and allowed these women to behave like women:the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, a hurricane.
    I grew up and served as a "hired helper" in the homes of local Black women (which was more of an auntie relationship with an allowance attached), as a "servant of the lord", that is, a slave in the convent at the Catholic school. As a teen I worked as a baby-sitter in the homes of "trashy white women"in southern california, as a "hired experiment" in the schools, as a "maid" in high class hotels in Palm Springs and as a "personal assistant" to liberal white women in northern california. I know what it is to be "the affirmative action girl" in white women's organizations and the "expendable crew member" in organizations dominated by Black men.
    So I'd really like to see this enblazoned discussion about "The Help" turn into a community forum wherein those who have been "The Help" and those who have hired "The Help" enter into dialogue about the subject. I'd like these discussions to facilitate a change in social attitudes toward "Those Who Serve".
    Let it lead to an examination of how much money is earned by who doing what? Let it open some eyes to the economic and political needs of "The Help". Let it lead to some changes in the laws that impact "The Help". And for those who are willing to face the ramifications of position and privilege let us look each other in the eye and tell the truth about our condition as women in this culture.
    The other thing I'd really like to see is a committee of people in film (black,white and blue), with money, and talent, who are willing to produce material such as your book ( and a dozen others I could name) and audiences of people (black,white and purple) who are willing to have more discussions about content,style, and relevance and take this art out of its degenerate condition and turn it into a tool for "edutainment".
    And lastly Gwen would you consider rendering your book into a stageplay?

    Think about it and let me kno what you feel. Teish

    • Gwendoline Y. Fortun

      August 25, 2011 at 2:12 am

      I wrote a reply but it seems to have returned to "space." I totally agree. Where are WE? Help!

  41. John Brown

    August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I like the beginning and the end of the second paragraph. (Full disclosure: I have Dr. Fortune's novel, "Weaving the Journey: Noni and the Great Grands," on my shelf.)

  42. John Brown

    August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I like the beginning and the end of the second paragraph. (Full disclosure: I have Dr. Fortune's novel, "Weaving the Journey: Noni and the Great Grands," on my shelf.)

  43. John Brown

    August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I like the beginning and the end of the second paragraph. (Full disclosure: I have Dr. Fortune's novel, "Weaving the Journey: Noni and the Great Grands," on my shelf.)

  44. John Brown

    August 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I like the beginning and the end of the second paragraph. (Full disclosure: I have Dr. Fortune's novel, "Weaving the Journey: Noni and the Great Grands," on my shelf.)

  45. Yolonda Lovelace

    September 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Mrs. Fortune,
    As of right now I havent had the pleasure of reading your novel, however I will remedy that soon. I wanted to address some of the points you made in your review and replies. Your definition of what art should be is absolutely correct. Sadly, i dont see much art in the form of writing. It seems as though black people are scared to reach beyond the confines of pop culture to truly tap into an artistic side. Urban romance as its called continue to portray blacks in the same images that grace our screens. With that i honestly do not believe people will be 'tired' of the same image of maid and ward. the topics of black on black never seems to be an interest for audiences, i dont know if its the roles hollywood sees or as much as how people see the roles blacks are placed. I didnt love or hate the book/movie, i just feel blah. shoulder hunch

  46. Yolonda Lovelace

    September 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Mrs. Fortune,
    As of right now I havent had the pleasure of reading your novel, however I will remedy that soon. I wanted to address some of the points you made in your review and replies. Your definition of what art should be is absolutely correct. Sadly, i dont see much art in the form of writing. It seems as though black people are scared to reach beyond the confines of pop culture to truly tap into an artistic side. Urban romance as its called continue to portray blacks in the same images that grace our screens. With that i honestly do not believe people will be 'tired' of the same image of maid and ward. the topics of black on black never seems to be an interest for audiences, i dont know if its the roles hollywood sees or as much as how people see the roles blacks are placed. I didnt love or hate the book/movie, i just feel blah. shoulder hunch

  47. Yolonda Lovelace

    September 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Mrs. Fortune,
    As of right now I havent had the pleasure of reading your novel, however I will remedy that soon. I wanted to address some of the points you made in your review and replies. Your definition of what art should be is absolutely correct. Sadly, i dont see much art in the form of writing. It seems as though black people are scared to reach beyond the confines of pop culture to truly tap into an artistic side. Urban romance as its called continue to portray blacks in the same images that grace our screens. With that i honestly do not believe people will be 'tired' of the same image of maid and ward. the topics of black on black never seems to be an interest for audiences, i dont know if its the roles hollywood sees or as much as how people see the roles blacks are placed. I didnt love or hate the book/movie, i just feel blah. shoulder hunch

  48. Yolonda Lovelace

    September 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Mrs. Fortune,
    As of right now I havent had the pleasure of reading your novel, however I will remedy that soon. I wanted to address some of the points you made in your review and replies. Your definition of what art should be is absolutely correct. Sadly, i dont see much art in the form of writing. It seems as though black people are scared to reach beyond the confines of pop culture to truly tap into an artistic side. Urban romance as its called continue to portray blacks in the same images that grace our screens. With that i honestly do not believe people will be 'tired' of the same image of maid and ward. the topics of black on black never seems to be an interest for audiences, i dont know if its the roles hollywood sees or as much as how people see the roles blacks are placed. I didnt love or hate the book/movie, i just feel blah. shoulder hunch