The Help is a novel by Kathryn Stockett that was published in 2009 and later turned into a film in 2011. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement (1962-1964), The Help follows the story of three women (two black women, and one white woman) who come together to anonymously publish a book called The Help. The book that they write is comprised of stories about experiences of black women working as maids for white families in Jackson.
Due to the nature of the story and the time period that it is set in, it is easy to find examples of injustices, power struggles and questions of identity throughout the novel. Because it is set at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movements, race is a large theme throughout the novel. The author explores many false stereotypes about black people, including that they are dirty, lazy, unintelligent, and carry diseases. The depiction of race in the novel can be directly related to the concept of othering. The white people in Jackson are the “self” whereas the black people are the “other”. White people are contributing to the otherness of black people by believing stereotypes and treating black people as if they are worthless. For example, Minny, who is a black maid for a white woman, was unable to find a job because her former boss, Hilly, was telling everyone in town that she was a thief. In reality, Minny had not stolen anything, and Hilly was just mad at Minny for something else. Hilly completely ruined Minny’s chances of getting a job over a lie, and she did it just because Minny was black.
The Help also tackles the idea of identity in a couple of ways. The first way is through the story of Mae Belle. Mae Belle is white, and she is physically and verbally abused by her mother. Aibileen (who is black) is Mae Belle’s caretaker, and she makes sure to care for Mae Belle in a loving way and tells her often that she is loved and important. There was an incident at school in which Mae Belle drew a picture of herself and made her skin color dark like Aibileen’s. The book also follows the story of Lulabelle who looks white but comes from a black family. Both of these instances involve some sort of identity crisis. Mae Belle has only been shown love by a black person, so that seems to be how she identifies herself. She doesn’t understand why the white people around her have a problem about it. Lulabelle is stuck between two worlds. She isn’t “black enough” to be black, but she also isn’t “white enough” to be white. These situations have caused an identity crisis for both of these characters, which could negatively affect the way that they view themselves (and how others view them) for the rest of their lives.
The below podcast was recorded by Josh Pelland and James Schubert.
Captions are available in the above YouTube video. The full text of the transcript is also included below for your reference.
All right. Hey everybody, my name is Josh Pelland. My name is James Schubert. Today we’re gonna be talking about socioeconomic status and its effects on health. So kind of the background story on this is that I saw a research poster in Ohio State’s exercise science labs to the effect of disproportionate obesity among Hispanic women. And after digging into this a little bit, there’s definitely a clear positive relationship between obesity prevalence and declining socioeconomic status.
So this comes as a relationship between the higher consumption of fast foods, sodas and other hypercaloric options in these populations. And this is definitely a big cause of this may be due to cost. And it seems almost like a paradox where people from higher socioeconomic statuses would have more money at their disposal so that they could spend it on you know high calorie foods, but in reality, it ends up being that these higher caloric foods end up being cheaper than Organic options such as stuff from grocery stores, like Whole Foods and farmers markets, and even then farmers markets and Whole Foods might not even be available to these people in from these lower economic backgrounds, especially in their own communities.
Yeah, and, I’d like to address a common misconception that a lot of people have. So a lot of people would assume that the direction of causality between socioeconomic status and poor health would be so somebody becomes poor and thus their health deteriorates, because they might not have access to sufficient health care professionals, etc. But actually, the research would indicate otherwise. So a low socioeconomic status at birth is what predicts subsequent poor health down the line. So kind of on that same note, with regards to the gradient between socioeconomic status and health, only about a third of that gradient is explained by lower socioeconomic status leading to more health risk factors. So Examples of this include poor water quality, smoking and drinking. So that’s a disadvantage they’re already at. But again, that only explains about one third of it. So there’s a couple hypotheses related to this. The first one is like the psychosocial hypothesis. So there’s this idea of having low social capital. So if you feel like you have a low ability to actually change your circumstances that somebody This is situation a poor person might find themselves in so that this stress response can actually deteriorate health itself. And probably the more pertinent to our discussion. This second hypothesis called the Neomaterialist hypothesis. So this is the idea that as income inequality grows, there’s less of a direct benefit for the wealthy to improve public resources. And as a lot of us know, wealthier people tend to have more resources and more influence in order to lobby and actually influence whether these public resources are improved, so as this gap increases, we see the lower income groups having less access to these public resources that might actually influence their health.
Yeah, and this is also related to what Spivak has told us about the concept of whether or not the subordinate can speak. So we’ve all heard this term of the either the silent majority or minority, whichever one. But in this case, the lower income groups don’t get a proper seat at the table for the issues that impact them, because they can’t necessarily do as much right now to change their situation that like that is currently at hand for them, because they don’t have the same resources that were previously mentioned as someone from a higher socioeconomic status, because it’s not as easy as you know, going outside and changing your life and you can’t do that like at the snap of a finger. It takes a lot more time and it takes a lot of money to you know, choose these healthy options at the grocery store, pay for a gym membership and put yourself in positions that you can be an extremely healthy person sometimes. So in these lower income situations, the harsh reality of it all might be that some people have bigger problems to worry about. They might not necessarily be going through their day thinking that, oh, I need to go get my 45 minutes of exercise and when you know they need to go work and they need to pay their electric bill or they need to pay their water bill, it really comes down to what they what they deem as more worthy of their time. And sometimes as sad as it might be health might take back a backseat to all this because making ends meet is really more important sometimes than living a healthy lives lifestyle. Like you have to everyday we make sacrifices. And sometimes the sacrifices need to be made so that we can even continue to live, whether that’s healthy or not. We have to make that we constantly fight to make that decision of whether or not you know I want to go on this walk or if I’m going to finish the 35 minutes of of homework that I need to do, it comes down to what you see is more beneficial to your everyday life. Right. So, and kind of jumping off that, you know, like, there’s definitely implications related to you know, we got to pay the bills, we got to
get the kids to school, whether we’re working one job, two jobs, three jobs, whatever. I think this also relates to the concept we’ve learned in this class, like basically throughout the whole semester related to othering. So from the concept of from the perspective of the one, they might think that the lower like, essentially that their health is a choice and that, you know, it’s very, it’s very simple in theory right, exercise sufficiently, meet the national guidelines for exercise throughout the week, and, you know, choose healthy foods, eat an appropriate amount of calories during the day and that, that’s all you have to do. It’s a choice, whereas I think they kind of lack a true a true empathy for this popular In terms of their ability to, you know, the disadvantages that they’re at in order to actually achieve those things, and I think that kind of links in with what James has been discussing, as it pertains to, you know, what are their true day to day worries for for these people, right, like if they have to work extra jobs, they’re not worried about getting those extra 60 minutes of.
Yeah, so sometimes it’s, it’s, we, we kind of touched a little bit on this, but it’s like, more easier said than done. Not all these things are, you know, it’s it’s not the easiest thing for some people to find the amount of time that they can really spend, because at this point, time, time realistically is money for a lot of people. And they could be either working for you know, those couple of hours a week. So I guess if you do an hour a day, instead of working that five hours and making however much money at that, at that rate, you end up choosing to sacrifice that to, you know, be healthy, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But in the grand scheme of things, the money ends up playing a large factor in this because it really supports our everyday lives. And if you can find a way so that you can work it into your lifestyle to become healthy, and take the time, then more power to you. But sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles. And whether or not being the healthiest person or being a person who’s alive at this point is it’s one of those tough decisions that you have to make because either way, it could either help or hurt you.
So, a thought that just popped in my head kind of as it pertains to the current coronavirus situation. So, we know that like the federal government has stepped in and made like, essentially testing free for everybody. But how do you do you have any thoughts regarding like, how these low income groups might be impacted as it pertains to the current pandemic we’re experiencing? Whether they don’t have access to sufficient health care professionals or they’d, you know, rather not go to the hospital when they need to and spread the infection to more people. You have any thoughts on that?
Yeah, I so a sports fan, you kind of noticed or at least noticed that as this has gone on, you’ve heard about these, you know, these basketball players that are getting diagnosed with it, and then in two weeks, here they are, they’re fine now, or I guess in quotes, we’ll we’ll put that in quotes, fine. They’ve recovered and it’s all because of their situation puts them, like their profession of being, you know, a multi-million dollar basketball player gives them a lot more opportunity and resources to go and meet with, you know, the best medical professional in the country. Because, of course, as we all know, athletes have this had this chance to and it’s interesting because you’re only hearing about like this, you know, not the 1%. But you’re getting close to that 1% of people in the country that are really the only ones that can figure out a solution to this. And I mean, if I were diagnosed today, I’m not even sure what I would do, because I don’t know if I can afford to go and support myself and pay for a test and then pay for staying in hospital for however many like, days or however amount of time. And it’s just it’s interesting because this is like a direct example of the advantage of socioeconomic status, really playing a huge benefit, like for know, this small group of people because they, it’s really not a worry in their head. They kind of already know that they know who they can talk to, and that they can get it solved quick, but some people just don’t have that,
that blessing. So but my sister, she lives in Colorado, and she actually lived in Hawaii for a couple of years before she moved to Colorado. And I was talking on the phone to her yesterday, or maybe it was two days ago, but whatever, and she was like, yeah, I’m just like really thankful that I’m actually employed and I have health insurance right now because when I was in Hawaii the company I worked for I didn’t have health insurance so like, right that like this is and I would consider myself and my family to be like, like very privileged in the grand scheme of the country, let alone the world. So it’s just it’s just something interesting to think about.
Any final remarks? Yeah, there even a lot of people that I know who are currently graduating that their job search has jumped through the roof because a lot of places since you’re working online, they can’t afford to even hire people anymore. Like I have, I’ve had a couple internships come my way that haven’t really, they can’t, they can’t support them anymore because there’s no point for them and giving you know, some college kid a computer and teach them to work from home because it’s not, it’s not economically sound. But I can only imagine that all these people who are losing their jobs, I read something the other day that said, we doubled the amount of people applying for unemployment in the first month of the coronavirus epidemic than in the six months of the 2008 stock market crash. So we we have this huge influx of people right now who are losing job benefits, they don’t have their healthcare anymore and they’re kind of just on their own and they’re kind of they have to fend for themselves and try and stay healthy however way they can by isolating themselves.
It’s very interesting. And just last thing to finish up to kind of loop back around to that first hypothesis I mentioned related to psychosocial stress. So like a lot of people underthink this but the resultant psychological stress from these issues related to unemployment, lack of health insurance, etc. does not have an effect on their health. That, that stress in and of itself deteriorates health and we know the number one killer beyond all the death of the coronavirus is heart disease and that is very negatively impacted by a chronic state of stress, so I’ll just leave you all with that. Any last thoughts, James?
Um, I don’t think so. Just try and stay healthy and do what you can to stay as healthy as you can.
In January 27, 2020, Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, had published a cartoon graphic of the Chinese flag with five coronavirus particles photoshopped over the five stars. The author Niels Bo Bojesen played a malicious joke on the current serious and sorrowful situation in China and had hurt the feeling of all Chinese people who was suffering now.
When Chinese government has demanded an apology from the newspaper and the illustrator, they refused to apologize for it because they thought that was their freedom of expression in Denmark. Indeed, they even did not think they make anything wrong, and in their culture, making fun of a nation flag is permissible. Additionally, many Danish people kept spreading out some online memes that critique Chinese people and government as vulnerable.
In my perspective, I can never believe that anyone in the world is able to mock others due to his freedom of expression. I think this behavior has already crossed the bottom line of ethical boundary of free speech. The virus had killed thousands of people in the world, whereas the newspaper still made fun of that without sympathy, which is definitely immoral and inhuman. I think this is systemic injustice, because the power of freedom cannot become anyone’s excuse to bully others.
Simone de Beauvoir introduces the concept of the Other in her work “The second sex”. In this case, I think people from China suffering the virus were categorized as the Other by Danish people who were making fun of that. In this semester, many literary works described the experience of prejudice which I think has similarity to this situation. For instance, Ortiz Cofer wrote in her novel “The Story of My Body” that she experienced racial prejudice many times because she was thought as the Other by those native persons.
African Americans systematically have less wealth than whites. Tables 1 and 2 summarize several wealth measures by race including median wealth, average wealth, and the share of households with no or negative wealth. The median black wealth in 2016 amounted to $13,460—less than 10 percent of the $142,180 median white wealth. (see Table 1) The average black wealth was 11 percent that of whites, and slightly more than one-quarter of blacks had no or negative wealth, compared with only a little more than 10 percent of whites. (see Table 2)
The black-white wealth gap has persisted for decades. As shown in Table 1, the median wealth for black non-retirees over the age of 25 has never amounted to more than 19 percent of the median wealth of similarly situated whites since 1989. Additionally, the ratio of average black wealth to average white wealth never exceeded 21.6 percent in 1992. Roughly speaking, the best-case scenario for the past 30 years occurred when blacks had about one-sixth the median wealth of whites in 1998.
These above two tables along with table interpretation somewhat reflects the income and wealth inequality as one form of systemic injustice among African-American. wealth in this country is unequally distributed by race—and particularly between white and black households. African American families have a fraction of the wealth of white families, leaving them more economically insecure and with far fewer opportunities for economic mobility. As this table shows, even after considering positive factors such as increased education levels, African Americans have less wealth than whites. Less wealth translates into fewer opportunities for upward mobility and is compounded by lower income levels and fewer chances to build wealth or pass accumulated wealth down to future generations.
Now, the historical circumstances leading to the sharp systemic wealth and income inequality between white people and black people originated from white wealth accumulated from the trading and enslavement of Africans, and from the taking of black-owned property to pass down to white children and grandchildren. Government policies such as racial housing covenants, redlining, financial handouts for white war veterans, and highway expansions provided additional wealth expansion for white families while providing net-zero wealth opportunities for African Americans.
Hanks, Angela, et al. “Systematic Inequality.” Center for American Progress, www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2018/02/21/447051/systematic-inequality/.
Due to the rising outbreak of Coronavirus around the world, there has been increasing cases of prejudice, xenophobia, discrimination, violence, and racism against Chinese people, and even Asian people, particularly in Europe, the United State and the Asia-Pacific region. What is worse, such discrimination not only happens on the Internet, some cases even involve violence in public as well as well-known news media.
On Feb.3, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia”, which has aroused the uproar among Chinese people and overseas Chinese since it deploys derogatory reference to China. The phrase “sick man of Asia” has been historically used to perpetuate the stereotype that Chinese people were disease-ridden and unclean. The expression is also resented by the Chinese, whose country has suffered from past foreign invasion. Such reference is thought to be instigating panic, skewing public opinion, and deepening discrimination. The likely consequence is rising racism against Chinese and other Asian ethnicities. Therefore, many Chinese people were petitioning to bring down the article or rectify the title in recent days.
As one of the most well-known international newspaper, WSJ’s improper choice of such an controversial headline at such a sensitive time of health crisis in China’s history demonstrates the author’s/editor’s lack of empathy and compassion, and will consequently harm the fame of WSJ as well as offend a sizable community in the US. All in all, there is an urgent need for WSJ to retract the headline, make claims and apologize.
Face masks are commonly worn by Asians to protect against germs or prevent any pathogen from spreading. However because of irrational fears over coronavirus, overseas Chinese have been dealing with horror stories about mask-wearing people being verbally and even physically attacked by strangers. In one such assault, videotaped by a passenger at a subway station in Manhattan’s Chinatown, a mask-wearing woman was pummeled and kicked by a man. The witness told the media that the attacker called the woman a “diseased bitch.”
I think such racial discrimination or anti-Chinese sentiment is a kind of systematic injustice since those discriminate and biased people irrationally abused innocent Chinese and Asian people who just want to protect themselves from being infected by the virus. As it is said by de Beauvoir in her Second Sex, “it is that no group sets itself up as the One without at once setting up the Other against itself”. However, the Coronavirus outbreak is the issue of the whole world combatting with the virus rather than confronting certain racial groups. Those discriminating cases will not only arouse a higher level of social unrest and fear but also increase the work burden of public police and workers. There is still an urgent need for more strict government regulations as well as scrutiny on the swirling misinformation and viral rumors and racist cases.
This past January, the Short North Food Hall posted a dress code list that discriminated against African Americans. The dress code restricted items such as sagging pants and flat billed hats. It also did not allow for athletic clothes, sandals, and a long list of other items to be worn into the bar. Food Hall did come out and apologize for the dress code and have taken the majority of it back, but it exploded onto social media sites and had many people upset about it. While having a dress code for health or safety reasons is understandable (for example, not allowing backpacks to be brought into the bar) their entire dress code is unreasonable. However, Food Hall specifically not allowing flat billed hats while allowing regular baseball caps is unnecessary. Also, baggy clothing would be a subjective call for the bouncer and there is no clear definition on what would be acceptable and would likely lead to discrimination. Even though the dress code listed specific items, it was not clear on what would be allowed and where the line would be drawn for items such as baggy clothes.
This relates to the Civil Rights Movement and demonstrates that while we may all appear to have equal rights there are still numerous cases of injustice. We are still dealing with racial discrimination in America today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought discrimination with nonviolent and economic methods. They did things such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956.
America has come a long way, but racial discrimination is still present today. Food Hall’s dress code is not acceptable, and we should not tolerate or support actions like this.
In my first Diary of Systematic Injustice I discussed an issue of cash bail (anyone who has been arrested and wants to stay out of jail while awaiting trial) and mass incarceration. A community group by the name of Dream Defenders, a Florida based community organization fighting racial injustices in the state began their kickoff event “FREE THE BLOCK” regarding the elimination of cash bail and “nationwide grassroots efforts of inventive, people-powered campaigns that have the direct goal of reducing jail populations, ending the profiteering of caging people, and divesting from a carceral system while investing in systems that fulfill the basic needs of people.” says Maya Ragsdale. Some many spend time in jail for lack of as little as $500 or even $250 (Wykstra 2018). Many low-income individuals specifically Black men are forced to pretrial detention before criminal trial because of the inability to afford cash bond. Black and brown people as well as other low-income families are vulnerable to this policy and often suffer more because of it. The inequality is critical to many homes of African American communities that are torn apart by a system that does not see this community as whole. The criminalization of Black men for minor charges, that are executed differently from their counterparts is a pandemic. Historically, the criminal justice system has always had a track record of often harsh, inhumane, and unacceptable conditions of mass incarceration. African American men are being sentenced and given extreme punishment for minor situations while others are performing greater acts of crime and receiving minimum consequence. Pretrial detention has dramatically negative effects on the outcome of a defendant’s case: those who are held pretrial are four times more likely to be sentenced to prison than defendants released prior to trial. Pretrial detainees are also likely to make hurried decisions to plead guilty to a lower charge to spend less time behind bars rather than chancing a higher charge and longer sentence at trial (Onyekwere 2019).
In class we read Story of my Body by Ortiz, and it reminds me of the prejudice and discrimination not only did Ortiz have to endure every day, but the same acts of unlawfulness and unjust that African American men face daily as well. The color of your skin has a major effect on how individuals will perceive you and act upon who you are. In her story, she was told by Ted that they would not be attending the dance together due to her name being of Spanish descent and his father not approving. He continued to express how he had known Puerto Ricans in the army. He had lived in New York City while studying architecture and had seen how the spies lived. Like rats (Ortiz 441). The excerpt shows the negative thoughts and perspectives regarding low-income and people of color that scour society. When it comes to criminal justice men who are Black, or brown are given more barriers in the system than others. With all the concerns there has been elimination of cash bail in some states in efforts of criminal justice reform. Of course, there is controversy about whether the cash bail should be eliminated or not; however, achievements are being made to reduce the sentencing that Black and brown people have encounters for years.
Numerous stickers stating “It’s OK to be White” were posted on a school and a nearby church. The Anti-Defamation League reported that this exact phrase became popular in 2017, and is widely used by white supremacist. Rev. Don Wallick believes that “it’s just a reaction to fear about the fact that there are more minority folks in the country”. This is something to be celebratory about, as America prides itself on being the land of the free and a place of opportunities and diversity.
This phrase is an expression that leads to the continual oppression of African Americans. The phrase itself is used in a reversal effect way, by acknowledging the fact that African Americans are embracing their race and ethnicities and starting the Black Lives Matter Movement, and coining the Black Lives Matter phrase. Instead of supporting the group and standing behind their efforts, the white supremacist are turning it into an issue about whites, therefore turning the attention back to themselves, and completely dismissing the Black Lives Matter efforts.
This is extremely similar to MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, as he states that being told to wait means it will almost never happen. If change is to be made, then it requires people within the oppressed group(s) (Other), and those who are not of the oppressed group(s) (Other) to speak out against these grave injustices. Spivak also questions whether or not the Subaltern can speak out and be heard. If enough people gather their voices together and make enough “noise” then change will be made. If people continue to remain silent because it’s easier due to the fact that the injustices happening aren’t directly related or happening to them, then nothing will change, it will only continue to get worse. In this case Rev. Don advises that, “he feels it is important to speak out after instances like this”. His hope is to encourage anyone to speak out if he or she is feeling discouraged for whatever reason. In order to combat this systemic injustice, then we all need to come together and speak out when we see these kind of injustices. There is power in numbers, and it requires more than solely the oppressed group to speak out in order to see change. It requires us all to speak out.
The article speaks about the unjust treatment of people of color getting jail time compared to whites relating to weed. People of color are in jail facing many years for having sold Cannabis/weed. While whites are making stores or food filled with the same thing and getting no type of punishment for it, if anything, they are getting more business for the same reason many people of color are in jail for. This is an unfair treatment that people of color are facing 10+ years in prison for doing the same thing, but are getting strict punishment for. If one group is going to get jail time, it should be everyone getting in trouble, or people should realize this isn’t an offense if it’s going to target one group of people. A quote from the article says, “ And although surveys show that whites use drugs as much or more than blacks in the US, black people were arrested for drug-related offenses at five times the rate of whites in the late 1980s and early 1990s.” This is unfair that blacks are more likely to go to jail for a drug offense than any other race, and this is something that should be looked at because it’s putting all the blame on one group instead of looking at everyone.
The article speaks about the need for police reform to make sure that the disparity would change. Racial profiling would need to stop, just because a person is of color doesn’t mean they are doing wrong. Police need to stop coming at every person of color they see. The need for unnecessary searches needs to end unless every person will be searched and not just because a person looks suspicious.
“https://qz.com/1482349/weed-and-reparations/”>Weed and Reparations
Throughout the semester there was one systemic injustice that stood out to me and it was one that I thought was pretty fascinating. This injustice came in the world of sports and particularity in the NFL. The NFL has had issues throughout the years of providing minorities opportunities in which they will hold a position of power, this could be ownership opportunities, GM jobs but mostly this comes in the form of Head Coaching opportunities in the NFL. The NFL has 32 franchises, and only 5 of those franchises have a minority head coach leading their franchise, that’s just 15% of NFL teams. The NFL has attempted to implement rules over the years that would put a band-aid on this issue and possibly lead to more minorities in leadership roles but it has for the most part turned into a disgrace of the rule. The Rooney Rule is a rule where an NFL team with an open coaching position must first interview a minority individual before they can officially name a new coach, which is a great rule/idea on paper, but it has been handled poorly. The current state of the rule is that NFL teams will bring in a minority individual at the start of their coaching search so they can hire their candidate whenever they choose to do so, but they almost never truly consider the minority interviewee for the position. Eric Bieniemy is the last minority in the NFL to unfortunately have to face this reality. Eric Bieniemy is the Offensive Coordinator for the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, and has been the leader of the best offense in the NFL for the last two seasons. But, for SOME reason he has been unable to land a head coaching position and has had to watch less qualified individuals land the positions in which he is coveting. I think this is a clear example of an systemic injustice because it is a situation where the NFL and their leaders are not allowing minorities the same opportunities of advancement that they’re providing to non-minorities. In the NFL minorities basically have no voice and no face when it comes to positions of power. Yes, the NFL is flooded with minorities who actually participate on the field, but when it comes to positions of power within the NFL minorities have virtually no voice, and no options.
If I had to compare Eric Bieniemy’s situation to content from our class I’d probably have to compare it Hegel and the Master-Slave dialectic. Eric Bieniemy’s is one of the leaders of the Kansas City Chiefs and for the Chiefs he does hold a position of power, to a certain extent. But, while he does have this position of power, and the end of the day he still is at the will of individuals who are far more powerful than he is, and he must do what they say. He is holding a position of power, while still being a minority and having to be somewhat of an inferior at the same time.