Reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Posted on August 30, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

I just finished reading our July book choice,  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Briefly, it is the story of the Jackson Mississippi milieu in the early 60’s where  Black maids are the fulcrum of a certain type of southern family.  These “colored women” raise the children,  potty train them, cook the food, clean the house, polish the silver, serve, and yet the hypocrisy of the white women is that they don’t trust them  to use the same bathroom, or the same dinnerware, or sit at the same table with them.   In fact,  they prefer them to use a separate toilet in the backyard or the garage.  One of the cringe-worthy historical facts was that to build an outside maid’s toilet would add to the value of your home, not just make for a “more sanitary ” home.

These women not only had to endure  racism as an everyday fact of life, they worked 6 days a week, made less than minimum wage, had no social security, no provision for overtime, could be dismissed on a whim with no notice or reason,  or severance pay.

To read this story,  told in the words of the women themselves,  was uncomfortable but compulsively readable, and moving through the sadness of it all was just a glimmer of hope.

One group of people should never have power over another group of people.  All jobs by all people are worthy of respect and dignity, and if it needs to be mandated by law for that to happen, then it should.  For the first time in our history there is now a union of service workers – something many people never thought would happen.

I like to think that the advent of the professional maid service has helped end this exploitation and abuse  in a small way.   Cleaning has been elevated to a real profession with decent pay and protection for the worker, and taken out of the realm of  discrimination finally.

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About the author:
Raina Raflo owns Sponge & Sparkle, Atlanta’s oldest and most reputable independent maid and house cleaning service. (404) 633-9652.


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