By Laura Chestnut, Business Administrator at Oracle Charter School I came in to the office this morning, and there was water in the coffee maker. It started my day...
Mrs. James Point Of View, by Dai’Jah, a student at Oracle Charter high school based on “Mrs. James” by Alice Childress
Hi my name is Dai’Jah and I wrote a story about “the help” in the 1950’s and 60’s. In my ELA class we were learning about the Harlem Renaissance. African Americans were starting to stand up for themselves and express their talents. This was very important time in African-American history. We wanted to show off our talents and share them with others. We had amazing writers like Langston Hughes and wonderful jazz singers like Billie Holiday. These people were famously known African Americans that ignored the negativity and followed their dreams.
While learning and reading about the Harlem Renaissance we also learned about point of view. We learned how to tell whether the stories we read were from the author’s point of view or was it an biography of a person’s life. This helps us understand the story a lot better to see if the story is coming from a personal point of view with a deep connection or someone just writing a biography.
I chose to write a story called “Mrs. James”. This story is a about a maid named Mildred who finally stood up for herself after having a disagreement with Mrs. James (Mildred’s boss) about her working hours. Like most colored maids we were treated rudely, paid low amounts of money, and worked crazy amounts of hours that kept them away from their own family. In the story I write from Mrs. James point of view so you can see her opinion on the maid and what she thinks is right.
Mrs. James Point of View, by Dai’Jah
I got new housekeeper today and ooooo will I tell you she is something else. I don’t know who she thinks she is but I was going to set the rules for her real quick. So I walked up while she was cleaning the kitchen and said “Mildred, Mrs. James would like for you to clean the pantry”. You know this colored chile had the nerve to see if I was actually talking to her. She is the only one in the kitchen!!!
Now I’m going to tell you something ‘bout myself. I don’t ever talk to the help as if they are my friends or my family or my acquaintances, etc. They need me, especially Mildred’s kind they all need work. So I talk, say, and do whatever I want to them because they aren’t going anywhere. I mean I might as well own them. But that is going too far, the government pass some laws that made that highly unacceptable.
After Mildred got done looking around to see if I was talking to her I told her Mrs. James was going shopping and that if anyone called Mrs. James was out. I rushed out the house because there was a get together for me and my gals that I had been highly anticipating. As I walked down my driveway I heard my name “Sue Mae!” I kept walking it was my very talkative neighbor Martha. “Sue Mae”, she repeated louder. I slowly turned around and gave her my most lavish “happy neighbor smile”, “Yes”.
“Sarah wanted me to call you and tell you Betty caught the flu so the get together is at your house this weekend”. Well I had no choice but to agree, if I said no I would have been talked about by everyone sayin’ I got mice or somethin’. “Ok” I responded. Surely everything was going to have to be perfect, Mildred was going to have to stay this Saturday for sure without exception.
Now that Friday I had came in and messed around with some things in the kitchen, realizing Mildred was in the kitchen also polishing silver. After a couple seconds of awkward silence I spoke, “Mildred, Mrs. James would like for you to will need you this Saturday.” I couldn’t tell her reaction because her back was to me. She put down a piece of silver and faced me “Mildred does not work on Saturdays”.
Even hours later I was still in complete anger and shock of how Mildred had spoke to me. I have never been spoken to like that. Ever! But I kept my calm because I needed someone to cook. But I was going to put Mildred in her place first. She needed to know that I am only law away from owning her so she needed to stay in her place.
I saw Mildred cleaning out the linen closet and gave her my two cents “A depression might do this country some good, the some people might work eight days a week and be glad for a chance to do it”. She acted as if she didn’t hear me but I felt better now that she knew how wrong she was. But a couple minutes later she responded “ That very true but on the other hand some folk might be doing their own housework…dontcha know.Good night Mrs. James”. and slid out the door. I dwelled on her statement all night. Kind of embarrassed of how selfish and rude I have been acting. I cleaned up my act and started to have some kind of respect for my help.
-Oracle Charter School is one of the high schools in Buffalo, NY, and is committed to expanding the horizons of its college bound students and enriching their world view