60 Years from Now...

April 4, 2012
Cheryl Woelk |

Two women, working as "maids" in 1960's segregated southern United States, cross racial lines to take a risk in telling their stories to an eager young writer.

Watching "The Help" in Virginia, I couldn't help but wonder about the impact of such a film in what was the historic "south."  


The film showed obvious overt acts of racial discrimination embedded in the social structures and norms, as well as official policies of the society that openly separated groups of people.


While it could certainly get the viewer's blood boiling at the inhumane treatment between people and blatant racism, I wondered at the ability to make the viewer reflect on our current societies. Does it take 60 years for a society to be able to look back at what was evil and name it as that? What am I a part of now that will be so unacceptable 60 years to come?


Also, much has changed in 60 years, but Virginia is still greatly affected by the legacy of  slavery and subsequent cultures of racial discrimination. Although people are supposedly protected from deliberate acts of violence and racism under the law, in reality, poverty and incarceration disproportionately affect people with African American heritage. 


In 60 years, what other faces of this legacy will the "south" be seeing? Will faith communities help to shape spaces for true healing and reconciliation that will last hundreds of years into the future? Or will we just watch another film about how terrible humankind used to be?

Author Name: 
Cheryl Woelk
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"What am I a part of now that will be so unacceptable 60 years to come?"
That is precisely the question that haunts a lot of my thinking.

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