Did author of “The Help” Exploit a Black Woman to Get Her Movie Made?

17 Aug

by Shani K. Collins, Your Black World

On Tuesday, Hinds County Circuit Court Judge, Tommie Green dismissed a lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, author of the widely successful novel, “The Help,” which centers on the lives of elite, southern, white Mississippi families and their African-American domestic workers during the Jim Crow era of the 1960s.  The lawsuit was filed by Ablene Cooper, who works as a domestic for Stockett’s brother.  Cooper claims the name and the likeness of Stockett’s main character, Abilene, are too closely related to her.  The lawsuit claims that Cooper found it upsetting and highly offensive to be portrayed as someone “who uses this kind of language and compares her skin color to a cockroach.” Stockett’s refusal to admit that the character Abilene closely resembles her likeness “is so outrageous in character, and so extreme as to go beyond all bounds of human decency, and is utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” Cooper adds.

Stockett admits that she gave Cooper a copy of the book in 2009, one month before it was published.  Cooper admits to not having read the book until 2010.  According to Stockett’s lawyer, Fred Banks, “the one-year statute of limitation to file a lawsuit had expired, and since Cooper had the book for a whole year, she knew or should have known about the contents of the book.”  Stockett recently told Southern Living magazine that she wrote ”The Help” because she was homesick for her grandmother’s maid, Demetrie who died when she was 16.

The Clarion Ledger reports that Cooper screamed “she lied, she lied” as she left the Hinds County, MS courtroom.  Then, she asked reporters if they knew of anyone else with that name.  “The Help” is currently listed as #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.  Also, “The Help” movie reportedly grossed $35.4 million dollars in 5 days.

Shani K. Collins is a native of Greenwood, MS, and a doctoral student at the University of Alabama.  You may visit her at www.shanicollins.com


3 Responses to “Did author of “The Help” Exploit a Black Woman to Get Her Movie Made?”

  1. Edye Mathews August 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    I did not see anything that said the movie was based on a true story. Not defending Stockett, but she has a right to publish her book and the movie. Just because Cooper worked or works for her brother does not mean the story is about her. Stockett does have first hand knowledge about maids, her brother, grandmother and possibly her mother and other white families in Mississippi. There was no uproar when “Driving Ms. Daisy” came out. I saw “The Help” because so many women in my neighborhood (SC) worked as maids because there was practically no other work in the south unless you were a teacher, preacher, beautician, barber, cook in a restaurant, etc. Pulling and hauling were our jobs.

    We need to write our own stories and stop complaining about what others write or do not write about us. It is about time we take control of our own lives and live the truth. Most of us are the descendants of African slaves whose complexion may have changed because of rape (during slavery) by those who we worked for after slavery. We cannot change our history but we can change our future. As I look to my right of this page, what do I see on one of the “TOP POSTS”, “Do Black People Discriminate Against Dark Skin and Natural Hair?” Really. Is this a topic we should be even having a discussion about now? If we have not gotten over it by now, will we ever learn to love ourselves and accept ourselves? The post is about self hatred than about hair and skin. “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    • Tjuna Eggson August 18, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      I do agree that everyone should be able to get pass minor issues of skin and hair. GOD made everyone different in their own way and we should all be able to Love ourselves for who we are! If you don’t Love yourself for who you are, how can you possibly Love others truely the way GOD would want us to Love. The past is just that, the past and we should be glad to know that there are those who can keep us in the loop about the way things were, so that we do not repeat or allow bad things to be repeated that is filled with hatred and the condeming of others.

  2. Maria September 7, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    Excuse, me. The lady had the book for a full year and did not bother to open it?? Then she is upset because the statue of limitations had expired. She lost her case.

    So, is it true that if you want to hide something from ( you know who) ; just put it in a book?

    Wake up my people ! Wake up!

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