I went on a field trip with my critique group yesterday to see the movie, The Help. This is a film that must be viewed with a group because it stimulates discussions, and in my case, brings forth a few suppressed memories to talk about. Whether you lived it or are exposed to it for the first time, this thought provoking movie has value not only in the characters and the actions, but in the background subtleties as well. That's what I remember from those days, the colored only signs. The back doors. The separate but equal concept.
I've worked through "separate but equal" for months now in my Pilot Mountain School research. I've talked with former students at this all-white school that told me they never even saw a black person until they were in second or third grade. That's the kind of separate I present in this manuscript, two societies existing in the same space with no interaction. Hard to believe it was even possible, but it happened.
I read The Help two years ago when I first started the interviews for this project. What a fortunate and timely coincidence. It kept me conscious of the fact that when people open their lives to tell their stories for print, they are taking risks. Exposure is painful, and while I look at a story as just an ancedote to the larger picture, they look at it as representing life itself. As I ask questions, I must keep this in mind. I watch grown men tear up. I pass tissues to women who weep over a simple remembrance of a day at the school.
I must respect their stories and handle them with care.
Catch of the day,