I just finished the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The book recounts the lives of maids taking care of white families during the early part of the 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi. Without giving away the plot, and I do think you would enjoy this book, it left me pondering so many issues of race, not only in the South, but also here in the West, and all over the world for that matter. How things have changed so much since I was a small girl and my father went to my elementary school to insist I not play with the little black boy in my class. I guess it was expected that the teachers would just keep us apart during recess. The year was 1958. It feels as though it was another lifetime, another world.
I have often wondered if that little boy might have grown up to be my friend's brother - who himself turned out to be a well-respected judge, and also the class president of my high school. (I don't remember the name of the little boy on the playground.)
The shame I feel for my father's prejudice is coupled with understanding the fear people had during those early years of civil rights. Fear of the unknown. Fear of giving up an established stratification that exists to this day. It does not make it right, however. Not in any stretch of the imagination does it make it right.
My daughters were raised to not look at color, sexual preference, or socioeconomic strata - but what of other prejudices? I cannot always say that I was equitable about everything and everyone. I've looked back and realized I carried many outdated and stupid ideas at differing times throughout my life. In some of those instances it was my daughters that set me straight. I love that they feel free to express those values, unlike the maids and early civil rights workers in Jackson all those years ago.
It's easy to hold negative ideas about people that are different from ourselves. It is only when we see people as absolute equals - sparks of the same divine energy - that all of it disappears.
We're just role playing here in Earth School, helping each other to evolve.
The movie comes out in August: