August 21, 2011

Commentary: 'The Help' is far from perfect

Mother used to tell this story. She was working as a domestic — this was the late ’40s or early ’50s — for a Memphis doctor when one day his daughter came up and inexplicably began rubbing her skin. It turned out the child had asked her grandmother why mom’s skin was dark, and the woman, a daughter of the unreconstructed white South, had said the darkness was dirt. The poor little girl was trying to rub the “dirt” off and was surprised it wouldn’t come. Years later, Mom’s voice still mixed anger and humiliation when she told that tale.

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