REPOST: On Father’s Day, There’s no “BLACK” father figure in The Help

Posted on June 17, 2012

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There is a more recent version of this post (2013) here

 

I’ll have another post up with interviews and article links on what’s been going on after the Oscars for some of those involved with The Help. But today I’d like to repost a blog entry from last June,  with a few additions for 2012.

OT:

My prayers go out to the Martin family (parents of Trayvon Martin) and all those parents of US Service men and women, and those whose children left us too soon. I’m also a parent who lost a child too soon, and as many of us state, it’s unnatural. And no matter how much time has passed, it still hurts wondering what your child may have become or contributed to the world.

Today is Father’s Day. And while both the novel and the movie of Kathryn Stockett’s blockbuster, controversial creation attempted to rehibilitate the southern white males who practiced segregation (like the overseas marketing which labeled Stuart Whitworth as a “Handsome, Good Ole’ Boy” and Johnny Foote as a “Southern Gentleman.” See the screenshots below).  The black males in the book or movie were not afforded such superlatives on screen, in the book or in the marketing of either. In short, the black male was thrown under the bus, much like white females were.

 

 

Click the image for a larger view:

“A Handsome Good Ole Boy” You’ve got to be kidding

 

 

 

 

That “Southern Gentleman” and “Dreamboat” Johnny Foote

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, for a book and a movie that wanted to show the races weren’t that different, both vehicles did much to show we really are different, and not in a good way  or with non-offensive humor in my opinion.

Yes, today is Father’s Day, yet there’s no black father in The Help (novel) who behaves like one.

This post is going to be short. And it’s a shout out to all males, no matter what race or ethnicity. The fathers of the world, the ones who act like men and provide for their families and take the time to love their children and cherish their wives, significant others and mothers. Guys, you deserve a day like today.

But there was a time not so long ago that African American males weren’t afforded that sort of respect. They were ridiculed, imitated and forced to bow and grovel, in essence to act like they weren’t men all because of bigotry and hatred.

This post is for my dad, six feet tall with smooth, mahogany brown skin and a killer smile. Worked as an automaker, was a husband, a father, a veteran, an avid college football and Pro-football fan.

He wasn’t a “no-account” and he wasn’t an absentee father.

Unlike how the fathers in The Help are portrayed, the black males like Leroy, Connor, Clyde and Minny’s unnamed father I’ve had the pleasure of knowing black men who are fathers and damn good at it.

 

 

Dough boys, black men during WWI. And don’t you dare call them “no-account”

 

 

 

So unlike the slurs in the book, where Kathryn Stockett in “Blackface” has her characters state:

 

Plenty of black men leave their families behind like trash in a dump, but it’s just not something the colored woman do. We’ve got kids to think about. (Minny, Pg 311)

We start calling his daddy Crisco cause you can’t fancy up a man done run off on his family. Plus he the greasiest no-count you ever known. (Aibileen, Pg 5)

But with my sister’s heart problem and my no good drunk daddy, it was up to me and Mama. (Minny, Pg 38)

“She’s been with your mama a few years. That’s when she met the father, Connor. He worked on your farm, lived back there in the Hotstack. . . . We was all surprised Constantine would go and . . . get herself in the family way. Some folks at church wasn’t so kind about it, especially when the baby come out white. Even though the father was black as me” (Aibileen, telling Skeeter about Connor, the male who impregnated and left Constantine Pg 358 )

Take a moment to realize what black males had to go through during segregation. Then ask yourself, if Stockett had written this about the males of your culture, how many of you would endorse, celebrate and love this novel or the film version?

 

The kick seen ’round the world. Alex Wilson is attacked by mob and the world finally sees what African Americans subjected to. Also note the brick in the attacker’s left hand

A lynching in Marion, Indiana 1930. The ultimate price black men paid during segregation

The REAL Scottsboro Boys. Who aren’t laughing and dancing, like the now defunct Broadway musical portrayed them

Young MALES and females being led to jail after protesting segregation, 1963

I am a Man. the sign says it all. Notice the National Guard with their rifle bayonets raised. And the one lone white male brave enought to show public solidarity

There were also the demeaning interpretations of how black males looked and behaved. And they were expected to emulate this, to the delight of white audiences.

 

One of America’s most “Beloved” entertainers, Al Jolson doing a parody of a black male, prior to singing to his “Mammy” in blackface

The creators of the radio show portraying Amos and Andy in blackface

Prince chawmin, one of the many cartoons created during segregation to represent the black male and his behaviors. This, is for the “children”

Amos and Andy with Kingfish. African Americans actors are hired to play caricatures of themselves, like Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson in The Help

Stepin Fetchit’s greatest role. The cowering, confused black man. Fetchit became a millionare in this popular role.

Hires ad, “Yassuh . . .boss.” How black males, no matter what age were required to act during segregation in order to be a “credit to their race.”

Marching for Civil Rights. See all the BLACK MEN?

 For more on just where and how The Help went wrong, please see this post:
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