Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Help, racism and slavery in the Deep South

This afternoon I finally had a chance to watch The Help, a movie about early 1960s Mississippi and the African-American maids who essentially were treated like slaves. It was all at once a sad and inspiring flick; watching how people could treat these maids like that was utterly disgusting, but how their indiscretions and atrocities were finally brought to light was inspirational.

While this won't be one of my "atheism undertones" reviews, there were some seriously alarming themes that presented themselves. Toward the end of the movie, the maids gathered in a home to tell Skeeter (played by Emma Stone), a budding writer and journalist, their (mostly horrific) stories of racism, abuse and misogyny. One of the stories explained how a maid was "willed" from one family member to another, literally treating her like chattel, like a piece of furniture. For those of you familiar with the bible, this story reeked of the type or immoral behavior in the Old Testament, where Christians and Jews can find detailed instructions on not only how to own and treat slaves, but the proper procedure for passing slaves down from generation to generation.

"However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way." -- Leviticus 25:44-46

It's very telling, as these Christian zealots of the Old South followed their bible to the letter, hence believing African-Americans were beneath them because they started as slaves in this country. Slavery was the main reason for the Civil War, as Southerners believed it was their god-given right to own slaves.

And this is the crux of my final point from this movie. I find it a tad shocking so few black people are non-religious. In the movie, there were multiple scenes that took place in a Baptist church, and that's when it hit me. If they read their bible and saw the Leviticus verses, they would know why people in this country felt it was their right to own them. This, in turn, means their god said it was OK for their race to experience these hardships, yet most of them remain loyal to Yahweh and Christ.

While I really enjoyed this movie, it just reminded me how sick religion is, how oppressive the Deep South really was, how strong indoctrination is and how absolutely repulsive and sad the history of our country is.

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