mwari magazine

One Love. Respect!

So, can you guess where I just left? Jamaica!!! This is my constant glow at the end of the trip…

The land where time stands still, low murmurs of “one love,” “ya mon” and smoky plates of jerk chicken. Every morning we’d wake up at 7am and walk out the the beach to enjoy a new routine: bask, rinse, repeat. By evening, we would venture to the concert hall where we saw an interesting rendition of Grease performed by the entertainment staff at the Riu Hotel in Montego Bay. Intriguing is the word: Let’s just say the lightest Jamaican played Sandy with a blond wig…

The last evening we enjoyed an amazing Reggae band “Legal Vibration” only to be interrupted with a dance by seventy-five year old woman. Let’s just say her technique was akin to the “look ma no hands” mantra. Of course we entered into the realm of “dance like no one is watching…”

Only shows, you go on vacation to become anyone but yourself. When you think about it (and I can use myself as an example), I spent weeks working out and making sure I looked toned only to eat my way through each ethnic dish Jamaicans ever thought of. But hey, that’s what vacations are for - going away to a place where no one else will know you, acting a fool, living a life that you could never keep up without cardiac arrest or being arrested. So a sincere thank you to the Jamaicans who lent me their home the last few days, peace - one love - and respect.

Help the Help

The Help. I would like to speak to the concept surrounding this book by Kathryn Stockett. Regardless of the dynamic characters, the rave reviews this novel received, or the touching and intricate story line, the novel is collection of stories of the too long living tradition of the Mammy in the South.

The Help shares the stories of African American maids in Mississippi and their relationships with their white counterparts or employers. I have no problem with this story being told wide-spread, I do however question why it took Ms. Kathryn Stockett to tell the story. Black women in the book told their tales and established their stories to, what seems to me, only serve as the back story to the novel. Now, the book has been published and turned into a motion picture and just like Aunt Jemima; the Mammy is personified and glorified as an American find. My how quickly the readers and reviewers forget that these women still exist and that this inferiority is still enforced. Is it really as simple as this story required someone who can have their story published in the mainstream section of the book store and not the Afro-American section? Is it really that black and white with no shade of gray?

I wish we could hear the real story and what these “characters” inspired from her real life have to say - if it’s true, why they never wrote it - oh  wait, they were discouraged from learning. Sometimes, when I read these books I think of how progressive they are and how this has been put out in the open for everyone to read, but what does that really mean? Are we giving the help the hand it deserves? Or are we forcing this tragically timeless tradition of the Mammy - not into a time capsule, but into our future?