Last night, housekeepers, home health workers, and activists gathered at an Oscar-viewing party hosted by the National Domestic Workers Alliance to cheer on the stars of the film “The Help.”
In the film, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer play African-American maids in segregated Mississippi. Both were nominated for acting awards, and Spencer took home the prize for best supporting actress.
Teresa Molina is a domestic worker from Mexico. She said through a translator that she has a lot in common with the Davis and Spencer characters.
“Yes, the movie was made in an entirely different time,” Molina said. “But there’s still so many similarities to what’s going on. There’s still that basic slavery almost that’s happening. People don’t value the work; their work isn’t treated with any respect or dignity.”
Molina says she has worked long days as an in-home nanny, earning just $500 dollars a month.
Enma Delgado immigrated from El Salvador to the United States eight years ago. Her three children still live in her home country with relatives. Delgado said through a translator that, like Viola Davis’ character Aibileen, she only made it through primary school. But she said she plans to send her children to college.
“In terms of breaking that cycle,” Delgado said, “like, [my] grandmother was a domestic worker, [my] mother was a domestic worker, now [I’m] a domestic worker. But it’s really important for [me], for [my] children to be able to do something else. But [I’m] really proud of the work that [I do].
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was also on hand, drumming up support for a bill before the State Senate Appropriations Committee that would improve basic working conditions for domestic workers.