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Racial Discrimination And The Civil Rights Movement

1171 words - 5 pages

Racial discrimination was brought to the peak of popularity in mass media in the 1960's with the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Southern United States was the front line of the battle for equal rights for not only black men, but also black women. The unification through the terrors of racism brought hope and a fighting chance to the cause. Kathryn Stockett uses the characterization of Minny Jackson through point-of-views of herself and other characters in her novel, The Help, to develop the conflicting ideas of the African American women ideology, Africana womanism.
Africana womanism is a branch off of womanism which focuses more on racial discrimination rather than equality for women in a man's world. It was developed by Clenora Hudson-Weems in the 1980's to contrast some of the ideas of womanism. The connection between men and women of Africana descendants share a closer bond which makes feminism less important to black women (Aldridge and Young 205-17). Africana womanism looks more towards a future for all African Americans rather than a future for the women. The connection between Africana descendants however may not be strong enough when dealing with spousal abuse.
Miss Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan's point-of-view paints Minny as the strong and sensible maid with a distrusting mood toward white women and a strong connection with African American tradition. As Miss Skeeter interviews Minny for her book, Minny expresses her "furiousness at white people" and her love of food (Stockett 194). Minny's hate for white people relates to that of Africana womanism, but her love for food is the only love she truly has because of her home life. Cooking is normally passed down from generation to generation as a type of tradition. Loving food and cooking reveals Minny's love for tradition. Conflicted about Minny's section of the book, Skeeter describes it as being about "trying to keep the anger inside, but never succeeding (Stockett 433)." Minny losing control of her anger is like the breaking free from discrimination during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and the time period of this novel. The hatred towards white people stems from the past history of wrongdoings in the direction of African Americans as a whole.
Aibileen Clark characterizes Minny as a hot-headed woman, but also sees her selflessness when protecting those around her as she looks after the fellow maids of Jackson. When Aibileen first speaks about Minny at bridge club, she describes her as "the best cook in Hinds County", but also speaks of her loud mouth and failure to hold a job (Stockett 8). The immense hate for being talked down to by those who she works for runs her life more than the employers themselves. The racial tension between the white and black people is coming more from the African Americans and their sense of unity. The first time Aibileen joins together both Miss Skeeter and Minny, Minny is trying to cool herself off with the icebox, but is still...

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