Beautiful Little Girl: Do y’all speak Spanish?
Nadia: No, we don’t speak Spanish.
Beautiful Little Girl: You look like you do.
Simone: Do you speak Spanish?
Beautiful Little Girl: Yes.
I cannot place a value on overhearing such conversations. While the rest of the world is debating the validity of a fictional book and movie, I’m sitting front row and center, watching our future navigate this thing called race.
I could not have imagined how many ways people would ask, “What are you?” We have been asked whether our daughters are Brazilian and Asian. A few weeks ago, someone asked Simone whether her father is Chinese, and someone else asked if she was mixed with black and white.
I had worried — Sometimes I still do — about the questions. A part of me feared people would make assumptions and taunt my girls. I try to arm Simone and Nadia with answers. After witnessing how my daughters handle these situations, I am not sure I need to intervene.
The conversation above was so mature. The Beautiful Little Girl spied two little girls who didn’t look one way or another. She checked her hunch and was skeptical when it was not validated. She was certainly on to something. Nadia, who can be a bit blunt and sassy, answered her question without judgment. Even when the Beautiful Little Girl told Simone and Nadia she was doubtful about the answer, there was no back and forth. Simone, a reporter-in-training, figured there had to be a reason why the little girl asked and turned the question around. Then I heard giggles and squeals and laughter.
With all the mature stuff out of the way, they got down to the business of playing with each other. I think we adults can learn a thing or two from the children.
I was skeptical about “The Help.” I turned up my nose at reading or viewing a work about black maids in the South in a fictional tale written by a white author. That was not my idea of entertainment. No, ma’am.
In fact, as I took my seat to screen the movie at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia, I already had decided I would not like it. What could this white author and white director show me about two black maids who team up with an aspiring writer who is decades ahead of her time? Why should I care about these fictional characters who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that shatters racial rules and and threatens their livelihood and relationships? Plenty and a heck of a lot, it turns out.
“The Help” is set in the turbulent 1960s and stars Emma Stone as Skeeter, Viola Davis as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny.
I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the characters and how the women, both black and white, learned how to trust each other. The villain doesn’t seem to have one redeeming quality, and each of the other characters has her own personal struggle to overcome as well.
While it’s a fictional work, it is centered on the civil rights movement, particularly the death of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who was killed in 1963 at his Jackson, Mississippi, home. As a result, the movie took me on a rough ride of emotions, at times angering me, bringing tears to my eyes and making my cheeks hurt from laughing.
I enjoyed “The Help” and suggest anyone who is willing to view race from a different corner of her mind to go see it. Remember, this is a work of fiction framed around a historical event. The author of the book told a room full of journalists that she was quite aware that she was making up the story. Don’t go see it alone. Take some girlfriends or someone else with you so that you can chat about it after the credits roll. Oh, and this is not a movie for young children. A few scenes are punctuated with spirited, literal and figurative expletives.
“The Help” changed my mind from doubt to acceptance. I may even purchase the book and read all the scenes that are sitting on the cutting room floor. The movie opens Wednesday, Aug. 10. Enjoy!
We have two beds for the girls; they pile into one. When you find one child, the other is not far away. Simone warns Nadia about danger; Nadia follows Simone’s direction. We have separate clothes for each; they leave the house dressed alike on most days. What we do for one, we do for the other. On more than one occasion, onlookers have asked us if they are twins. No, they are sisters.
We have a loud home. Protests are constant.
“Nadia won’t be quiet.”
“Simone won’t share.”
The Supreme Court of Mommy settles several disputes a day.
For all the fussing back and forth, they really do love each other. Nadia had a low-grade fever and didn’t go to preschool the other day. Simone was not pleased about this development. She cried on the way to the car, all the way to preschool, and all the way to her room. I explained Nadia wasn’t feeling well.
“Why?” Simone wanted to know.
“She has a fever.”
“But I’m going to miss her.”
“I know. I know.”