On Father’s Day, there’s no black “father” figure in The Help

Posted on June 19, 2011

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Today is Father’s Day, yet there’s no black father in The Help 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.

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?

 

The kick seen 'round the world. Alex Wilson is attacked by mob and the world finally sees what African Americans subjected to.

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

The REAL Scottsboro Boys

Young MALES and females being led to jail after protesting segregation

I AM A MAN

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 the most "Beloved" entertainers, Al Jolson doing a parody of a black male

The creators of the radio show portraying Amos and Andy

Offensive cartoon depiction of black males and "shooting dice" called Prince chawmin

TV hires black actors to portray Amos and Andy with Kingfish (center male with arms outstretched)

Stepin Fetchit's greatest role. The cowering, confused black man

Hires ad, "Yassuh . . ."

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