By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood January 12, 2012 at 11:45AM
I have always believed that culture can help make change. I believe that you can use film and TV to move people about issues -- if you do it right. The smart folks with the National Domestic Workers Aliiance are using a cultural opportunity with the film The Help and have created the #BeTheHelp campaign to raise awareness of the real situations for domestic workers. These mostly women are part of an underground economy many times paid in cash and not given the same rights as other workers. Yet they are the life blood of families enabling parents to go to work each and every day knowing that their children are being cared for my people they trust.
Ai-jen Poo who I don't know but seems like an amazing dynamo, created the National Domestic Workers Alliance to get rights for domestic workers. She got the NY State legislature to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights "recognizing them as legitimate workers on a par with any other wage earners, and entitled to such amenities as overtime pay, a minimum of three paid days off a year and legal protection from harassment and discrimination."
The Help is a film that has caused some controversy especially with African American women. I've had many amazing conversations about the film and I have learned so much from discussing the issues the film raises and the problems people have with it. I am not in that camp. I have always been a fan of the film and the book. I hope that people who aren't fond of the film will look at this effort and making lemonade out of lemons.
Having been a nanny myself about 20 years ago in grad school, I know this is an important issue and I am happy to join with this worthy organization to raise awareness about such an important feminist issue.
I'll be tweeting live at a Golden Globe watching party on Sunday night that will help raise funds for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
The Nannies’ Norma Rae (NY Times)