Aibileen: An Inspiration
Chenyi Zhang, Division 2, 8th grade #ws18e-s1d2

Aibileen is the epitome of a strong, independent woman, who, in order to resist against the social injustices of the world like racial discrimination, has to endure many hardships in a journey to find equality. She has inspired me to become a person that is selfless enough to risk her life for a cause that she believes in.

She is a character from the movie “The Help”, which entails a white woman, named Skeeter, and the writing of a book about the lives of black maids who serve white families. Aibileen is a black African American living in the city of Jackson Mississippi, living the life of a maid serving her white master, Mrs. Hilly, and her family. She later on encounters Skeeter, who is one of Mrs. Hilly’s friends and an inspiring journalist. She wishes to write a book regarding the thoughts of the black maids on their treatment, life, and hardships while working within a white household. Aibileen was the first maid that she asked to star in her book. Is Aibileen prepared to make that risk?

By allowing her experiences as a black maid to be publicized in a book to a large audience means that Mrs. Hilly might find out, and punish her. Mrs. Hilly is a very influential presence in Jackson, Mississippi, and holds a large amount of power because of her vast network of connections with other families that have black maids. If Aibileen chose to be a part of Skeeter’s writing crew for the book, then Mrs. Hilly would harm any person associated with Aibileen. Maids that were friends with Aibileen would be fired immediately, and their children would be shunned from any maid jobs for whites that have connections with Mrs. Hilly. What encouraged Aibileen was knowing that her son would be proud of her and that her words would bring attention to all of the hate African Americans had been receiving simply because of their color and ethnicity. She told of the time that her own son was killed running an errand for his master by a truck, and left there on the ground as he died. Nobody had cared for the black lying on the cold and hard cement because he was a worthless black who didn’t deserve to be helped. In the end, Aibileen was forced to bury her son all by herself.

Aibileen knew that for a true change to happen in society against a common stereotype or social norm, it had to begin first within the community. While his death brought grief and pain to her, but also made her brave for her son. She knew that her son would have been proud of her if she spoke out against the prejudice towards African Americans, and so she found the determination to do just that. She told Skeeter how she had a separate restroom from her master, for Mrs. Hilly felt that Aibileen was going to dirty the toilet and spread her “black diseases” all over her home. She told her of the degrading feelings she felt when there was a car accident and the African Americans were forced to get off while the bus driver would try to bring the white passengers as close to their destination as possible. She told her how she had to raise seven white babies whose own mothers couldn’t find the time and energy to take care of while her own son had been killed by a white man.

What makes Aibileen so admirable is her extreme selflessness, and her ability to be strong even under the scathing words and glares of others for being a black. Aibileen saw the effects of what betraying one’s master would do. She had been restrained by a police officer as she saw, right in front of her eyes, one of her maid friends being handcuffed for stealing a ring. This scenario might seem to be perfectly logical to those who haven’t seen the movie, but, in reality, she had tried to sell the ring so that her two children could go to college. She had asked her master for funds, pleading with her, and telling her that she would repay her if she had to work all week to do the deed. Yet her master had coldly refused, saying that she was doing the maid good by teaching her how to be independent and how to pay her own debts. After seeing such a scene Aibileen should’ve flat-out refused the offer to be in Skeeter’s book, should’ve feared for her life. But she still chose to help Skeeter with her book, and to relay her daily difficulties that comes with being a black in a racist environment such as a white home. I consider myself to be an adventurous person, who isn’t afraid to try new things. But I have limits, and I would not risk my life to speak out against black discrimination and racism in general, in fear being punished. This proves how courageous and selfless Aibileen is , for I could never do something as risky as having my voice be a part of the controversial subject of racism towards blacks. She has encouraged me to voice my thoughts even in situations where I might be the only one brave enough to say something different and completely opposite from the majority opinion.

In conclusion, Aibileen is a figure whom I wish to be just as equally brave and selfless as. She has proven to do what she thinks is right instead of cracking down under the consequences that exposing the whites’ never-ending punishments to the maids would eventually bring. To fight for social justice and for equality and for her fallen son, who died by the hands of whites, she finds it in herself to rebel against the degrading treatment blacks are forced to face day by day. If that doesn’t take true courage and selflessness, I don’t know what else will.
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