On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. His death came after the killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman, who was shot by a Louisville police officer in her own home (March 13, 2020). On May 27 2020, Tony McDade, a black trans man, was shot by Florida police officers.
Following their murders and the racist killings of countless other black people, people have taken to the streets to protest police brutality, demand justice and call for genuine change. Black people are also asking white people to educate themselves about racism and the ways in which they are complicit in it.
Following these calls to action, The Help has trended on Netflix but people, along with one of the film’s stars, Bryce Dallas Howard, are now explaining why that’s problematic.
Released in 2011, The Help tells the story of a white journalist who writes a book about black housemaids and racism in the US in the 1960s. Despite Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her performance in it, The Help has been widely criticized for being a white savior story. The movie is also based on a novel by a white woman and directed by a white man.
“I’ve heard that The Help is the most viewed film on Netflix right now!” Howard shared on Instagram.
“I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from the film — our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime. This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further.”
She continued, “Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action.”
The actor and director then listed a number of films that focus on black lives, stories, creators, and performers including 13th, Selma, Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland, and When They See Us.
Howard also encouraged her followers to share more titles in the comments.
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