I'm about halfway through the book and I just ran across a part that struck me as a HUGE IDEA of this wonderful, thought-provoking story and I wanted to write about it before I lost the thought. Since I'm reading on a kindle and I don't know which page number it is (kinda frustrating...), I'll try to describe which part it is. It's from Minny's point of view, and she has just left a church meeting with Aibileen where they are trying to organize a sit in at the local Woolworths. Minny is describing her frustration about attending the meeting and talking to Miss Skeeter about her stories. She's talking about how telling the stories is providing her some relief, yet the sit ins and demonstrations are not doing much for her:
"And I know there are plenty of other "colored" things I could do besides telling my stories or going to Shirley Boon's meetings - the mass meetings in town, the marches in Birmingham, the voting rallies upstate. But truth is, I don't care that much about voting. I don't care about eating at a counter with white people. What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing the silver."
WOW!! This part struck me big time! Here is what the civil rights movement is all about and how hurtful, degrading, and downright pitiful racism is. In all the chaos of the 60s/70s with laws being changed and white politicians arguing it out, were the black voices truly being heard??? Or were the white politicians and white civil rights leaders just doing what they thought was the politically correct thing? Of course, everyone should be able to vote if they want and everyone should be able to eat where they'd like, use whatever bathroom they want, or swim in the same pool as the people across town. And those important laws did change these major issues. However, laws cannot change what people think and the sad reality of it, is that the thinking is still the same today in A LOT of places. No one expresses these ideas and thoughts as openly as they did 40 years ago, that would be racist. But we would be stupid to think that so many people don't think the same as their grandparents did so many years ago. When the derogatory, evil words are still being spoken in people's homes, how can young minds not be shaped into thinking the same evil thoughts?
Minny's frustration is so well expressed in this book and truly touched me. She doesn't care about being integrated into every part of the white culture. Everyone enjoys being in their comfort zone. We can be ourselves, relax, and not feel on-edge.This was also described when she has to eat with Miss Celia. The awkwardness and how she can't even think in peace for five minutes. We all know how it feels when you are outside of your comfort zone. It's difficult and nerve wracking. But, imagine the extra tension when having to work and live around people who don't trust you, think you are disease ridden, and downright ignorant.
Obviously things still need to change in society. It's talked about on t.v. (or tee vee....which I soooo love how they say in this book :) ), written about in books and newspapers, and shown in movies and television shows. But until the actual thinking towards blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, etc, etc, etc change, racism is still very thick in everyday life. Are we to the point Minny is describing in wanting for her daughters??? I fear not (at least not in all homes, but hopefully in some) and even more so, I fear it's a long time coming. Ugh.