Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life

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Beacon Press, 1956 - Fiction - 226 pages
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Like One of the Family, which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s.Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred's outspoken accounts capture vividly her white employers' complacency and condescension—and startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind. As Mildred declares to a patronizing employer that she is not just like one of the family, or explains to Marge how a tricky employer has created a system of “half days off” to cheat her help, we gain a glimpse not only of one woman's day to day struggle, but of her previous ache of racial oppression. A domestic who refuses to exchange dignity for pay, Mildred is an inspiring conversationalist, a dragon slayer in a segregated world.

The conversations in the book were first published in Freedom, the newspaper edited by Paul Robeson, and later in the Baltimore Afro-American. The book was originally published in the 1950s by in Brooklyn–based Independence Press, and Beacon Press brought out a new edition of it in 1986 with an introduction by the literary and cultural critic Trudier Harris.

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Contents

Ridin the Bus
13
The Pocketbook Game
26
The Health Card
42
Copyright

13 other sections not shown

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About the author (1956)

Alice Childress was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and raised an educated in Harlem. She pursued a variety of jobs, including assistant machinist, photo retoucher, saleslady, and insurance agent as she worked relentlessly to gain audiences for her work as a playwright, actress, and novelist. She also did domestic work for a few months; the day she quit she surprised her employer by throwing her keys at her head. The woman later asked her to return to work. This "only work" that Childress could find turned out to be valuable, for it provided her with firsthand experience of the job situation she would later depict in Like One of the Family. Her works include numerous plays including the Obie-Award Winning Trouble in Mind, as well as books for young adults such as A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich.

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