The Issue of Race, Racism and Cultural Identity

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A Tate Taylor film, The Help underscores the extraordinary, racially-charged generalizations that support racial reasoning. Blacks in this film are illustrated as regular house helps, or domestic slaves. However, explicitly they are depicted as mistreated, troubled, devastated, and results of suffering through the usage of chauvinist generalities and apposition with the lives of prosperous whites in the southern states.

The juxtaposition venerates the racial gap among whites and Negroes. The actions of the black characters strengthen the social generalities that are inevitable all through the film. One of the generalizations credited to blacks is that they are unclean and sick. Indeed, this generalization is established halfway in their African parentage and somewhat in their living conditions. The generalization is spoken to in the film when Elizabeth and Hilly Holbrook, white managers, work to pass the “Home Health Sanitation Initiative”, a bill that necessitates each white homestead to have a different washroom for the Negro assistants.

As previously mentioned, Hilly was worried that the alleged “maladies” that the blacks convey because of their race will contaminate whites, subsequently compromising their wellbeing and security. Additionally, the treatment given by the white foreman to Abilene’s son was horrific and racist. He only carried him at the back of the truck just like baggage because he was black, and he did not consider him a human just like him.

Similarly, the movie Get Out gives a detailed description and demonstration of the black experience. Chris had realized that his fiancée’s family was transforming black people into robots through transplantation to use them as slaves. Thus he begged to ask why the white family only targeted black people like him. The self-realization of his blackness as an individual is a sign of his knowledge about cultural identity. Similarly, the white man Jim who wanted the transplantation to be carried out on Chris, highlighted several racist stereotypes associated with black people such as strength and speed. Introduction Get Out is a 2017 horror film which was directed by Jordan Peele. It illustrated the journey taken by Chris, and his white fiancée Rose when they went to see her parents for the weekend.

Chris found out the family was quite accommodating, and he interpreted their gesture as a nervous attempt to accept their daughter’s interracial relationship. However, as the weekend progressed, he discovered the family’s dark secrets that he could have never imagined. On the other hand, The Help is a 2011 drama film that was set in Mississippi during the 1960s and directed by Tate Taylor. The movie details a Caucasian girl named Skeeter Phalan, who had graduated from college and was resolute to become a writer. However, she shocked her friends when she made a decision to interview black women about their experiences while serving prominent southern families.

Therefore, it is essential to look at the representation of race, racial categories, as well as cultural identities in The Help and Get Out. Skeeter had just graduated from college and had returned home to look after her ailing mother. She was unique since, unlike her female friends who had spent their youthful moments in search of husbands, she had never dated or had a boyfriend even if she aspired to have one.

However, she was in pursuit of a career in journalism or as an editorialist. She realized that the workers in her home who did the home chores were exclusively black (Taylor, 2011). Nonetheless, it was the unfolding of specific events such as the unforthcoming explanation given by her mother about an elderly servant that had raised her named Constantine Jefferson that prompted her to seek the truth. Therefore, she embarked on a journey to document the experiences of black workers in their service to their white bosses. Skeeter asked a black servant named Aibileen, but she refused to talk. Later on, Aibileen and her friend Minny agreed to speak to her and shared the horrific deeds of their employers.

For example, Minny’s employer Hilly had banned all the black employees from using their white employer’s washroom. The two servants inspired others who came out to tell their stories (Taylor, 2011). Alternatively, Chris was a young talented African-American photographer who had been engaged to his white girlfriend named Rose for five months. Thus they planned to visit her family that resided in Upstate New York that comprised of Jeremy, who was Rose’s brother, her father named Dean, who was a neurosurgeon as well as her mother, Missy, who was a hypnotherapist (Peele, 2017).

However, he discovered that there were two black employees, namely Georgina and Walter, who were behaving strangely. Additionally, when he was unable to sleep, Missy forced him to undergo a hypnotherapy session to cure his cigarette addiction. But strange things did not stop there since when he tried to take a photo of a black man named Logan; he became hysterical and told him to go out. Similarly, he learned that Rose had had affairs with other blacks, including Walter and Georgina. The events scared Chris, and he urged Rose that they should leave, but her family blocks him by knocking him out using a trigger that had been implanted in his body during the hypnosis session. When he awoke, he found himself strapped to a chair, and he was informed that the family transplanted the brains of black individuals into other bodies, and they were to do the same to him. The revelation frightened him, forcing him to attack Jeremy and escape for safety (Peele, 2017).

One of the most evident depictions of race lies in the conversation that Skeeter had with Elaine Stein, who stated that Martin Luther King had called on the entire nation to match with him in Washington DC (Taylor, 2011). Additionally; she stated that she was not even aware of any period when so many Negroes and whites had worked together. The use of the words Negroes and whites served to indicate the racial difference that existed between the two groups of people. Additionally, she highlighted that the two sides were not getting along; hence the march which would comprise of all the races was observed a step in the right direction.

However, it was Aibileen’s confession on the treatment her son got after falling in a mill that highlighted the issue of racism orchestrated by the whites against the blacks. She illustrated how the foreman threw her son’s body on the back of a truck and dumped him in a hospital. His acts were not typical of the treatment humans are supposed to offer others whenever they need medical care.

However, his actions could have been contributed by the fact that her son was black, and the white man may not have considered him as a human being with equal status to him. His actions could be classified as a form of institutional racism since the young black man was working in a cooperation, and due to his skin color, the necessary measures were not taken to save his life (Baron, 1985; Bonilla-Silva, 1996). For example, the act of throwing him at the back of a truck instead of calling an ambulance showed the perception he had about the black man not being equal to him.

The bathroom and segregation further help in elaborating on race, the issue of racism as well as the racial categories that existent in the society. The issue of race is depicted when Skeeter’s mother stated that they used the guest bathroom along with the Negro (Taylor, 2011). The mention of the word Negro and stating that they were another group helped in elaborating on the different races.

However, it was Elizabeth’s words and actions that stipulated the main issue of racism that existed between white families and black workers (Blauner, 1972). For example, she refused to use the guest bathrooms because the Negro used them. Additionally, she stated that blacks did not have diseases that were similar to theirs. Thus she had been prompted to propose a home house sanitation initiative that was aimed at ensuring that white houses have separate bathrooms for blacks. The words she uttered were racists since they discriminated against the blacks by not regarding them as equal humans. Also, the separation of toilets that the two people from different races used did not have any reasonable ground except the fact those racist intentions drove them. Since blacks were humans, just like the whites, it was wrong to assume that they had different diseases.

Similarly, Elizabeth’s refusal to use the guest bathroom since the Negro used it was a sign of the racial categories that were existent. Her actions signified that the whites were ranked higher, and blacks were regarded as sub-humans.

The scene where Jim has a conversation with Chris represents a case of race, cultural identity, as well as racism. When Chris asked Jim why the transplant was being carried out on them who are the black people, it shows his cultural identity as a black person. People are classified into various groups ranging from the dominant racial categories, namely: black, white, and colored. Thus Chris knew what his category was as he stated that he was black. Additionally, Jim highlighted some stereotypes of black people by stating that they wanted black transplants to get stronger and faster. These characteristics are often associated with black people, thus depicting that a white person wanted to acquire the qualities is an indication of race.

He was depicting that the two were from different races due to the difference of their skin color, the ability of Chris’s eyes as well as the different stereotypes associated with blacks and not whites. Additionally, the use of black people by white individuals can be regarded as racism. The whites were only choosing the black people to implant their brains and use them for their own needs. For example, Logan had had a transplant, and the old lady was using him as a sex slave (Peele, 2017). In conclusion, the different scenes gave a detailed representation of race, racial categories as well as cultural identities in The Help and Get Out.

The events that took place gave a detailed account of the issue of race and racism, as well as the realization of cultural identities among different members of the communities. The theme of race is well represented with two main groups, namely the blacks and whites. However, the issue of racism orchestrated by the whites on blacks in all the scenes forms the main pillars of themes, as well as the message that the scenes aim to deliver. The whites inhumanly treat blacks, and they do not regard them as equal humans. Thereby, the whites are categorized higher than blacks. However, Chris’s recognition of himself as being black is a sign of cultural identification (Hall, 1996).


  1. Baron, H. M. (1985). Racism transformed: The implications of the 1960s. Review of Radical Political Economics, 17(3), 10-33.
  2. Blauner, R., & Blauner, R. (1972). Racial oppression in America (pp. 53-56). New York: Harper & Row.
  3. Bonilla-Silva, E., & Lewis, A. (1996). The’new racism’: Toward an analysis of the US racial structure, 1960s-1990s. Hall, S., & Du Gay, P. (Eds.). (1996). Questions of Cultural Identity: SAGE Publications. Sage.
  4. Peele, J. (2017). Get out.
  5. Taylor, T., Green, B., Columbus, C., & Barnathan, M. P. (2011). The help [Motion picture]. The United States of America: DreamWorks Pictures.

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The Issue of Race, Racism and Cultural Identity. (2020, Sep 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-issue-of-race-racism-and-cultural-identity/

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