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Watching 'The Help' as an African American Woman

The new movie powerfully demonstrates that racial reconciliation happens not primarily through speeches and "diversity training" but through everyday friendships.

"Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it doesn't disturb anyone else."

That's the writing advice given to Skeeter, the only single white female and college graduate among her well-to-do white girlfriends who are all married with children. In the small town of Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s, Skeeter reaches out to the African American maids of her so-called friends to speak her truth.

The truth is, one of Skeeter's best friends, Hilly (a professing Christian and wife of a politician), is a high-minded and demoralizing individual who thinks it is perfectly normal to host a fundraiser for the "Poor Starving Children of Africa" and yet draft an initiative to require that all white families build separate bathrooms for their "help"; in Hilly's words, "They have separate diseases than we do, and I'm just trying to protect our children."

The help of which Hilly speaks are the African American maids and lead characters Aibileen and Minny, who spend their entire lives cooking food ...

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