Nobody ever likes to admit to oppressing anyone. That's like admitting to being a chain smoker while being a pulmonary doctor. In our politically correct world, especially in upper middle class suburbia, nobody oppresses anyone, right?

I say wrong. We don't even realize when we do it, because the concept of social hierarchy isn't usually something we wake up one morning and decide to believe. It's something ingrained in us. From the time we're little we are given pictures of other types of people and told "this is what you are" and "this is what somebody else is" and that "you are different." 

Who decided that we were different in the first place? It's just like bell hooks' description of the little boy who came up to her and asked what nationality she was. Who taught him to think that nationality had anything to do with skin color?

Perhaps it's because we feel most comfortable with those whom we see as being most similar to ourselves. It's interesting how we're slower to judge those with whom we most identify than those with whom we identify less.

It's also interesting to me how people will only face racism and classism when it's fed to them in a certain way. 

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is a great example of this. Here is a book that gained nationwide popularity and touches on serious issues including the oppression of black maids in the Jim Crow south by white housewives. 

Yet as Dr. Wanzo, a professor here at Wash.U points out in her review of the book for the huffington post, ( this book "makes Jim Crow palatable."

First of all, the heroin/main protagonist of the novel is a young white woman. Stockett could have made the main protagonist either of the two main characters in the story who are black maids, Aibleen and Minnie. 

Secondly, Aibleen is an older, matronly figure portrayed kind of like Mammy, the happy slave in Gone with the Wind. She still seems to enjoy her job and only criticizes her employer for not giving her own daughter affection. Why couldn't Aibleen dislike her job? It seems that do endear Aibleen to the public, Stockett finds  it necessary to make Aibleen a somewhat passive older woman who evokes sympathy from us because mostly because she's old, not necessarily because she's 

Thirdly, Minnie is typefied as the typical "sassy black strong woman." She bakes a feces-filled pie for her former employer in retaliation for the horrible way in which she is treated.

Out of curiosity, I went onto to see some reviews of the book verses the movie to find out what people thought of each. Two comments particularly fascinated me. One woman commented only that  she'd seen the movie and not read the book. "I don't think Stockett needed to include that pie thing. Couldn't it have been something else?" Clearly the pie made her uncomfortable, yet I would have hoped that the racism on the part of the white women made her uncomfortable too. Why didn't she bother to mention anything about the way the white women acted towards the black women? I'm pretty sure accusing someone of stealing and putting them out of a job is just as bad, if not worse, than baking a feces pie.

Another woman commented later on that she was African American, her great grandmother was a domestic servant in the Jim Crow south, and that she thought Minnie did just the right thing by making the "pie."

If all of the horrible things done to black women not only during the Jim Crow south, but before and after were to be turned into pies, well, I'd say we'd have a lot of baking to do.

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