Once in a while, you watch a movie that really resonates with with you — maybe even empowers you. One that you can refer to when you are feeling down, when you feel like you can’t make it, and you say “so-and-so did it, so I can too.” As silly as this sounds, I have been doing this very often since President Trump won the election. On January 20, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, I watched Hidden Figures.
Hidden Figures is about three extraordinary black women during the time of segregation, without whose help NASA would not have been able to launch John Glenn into space. These women were Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). An especially touching scene for me was when Dorothy Vaughan, regardless of all the supposed obstacle in her way, still prepared herself and her team for the anticipated moment of promotion and recognition for their skills.
It amazed me that they did not just sit there with the same skill set, expecting to be used and then thrown out; no – they made their presence known, and they prepared themselves for the final moment when their presence would be too overwhelming to ignore. But more than this, the theme that carried on throughout the movie, and the one that stuck with me the most, was the sense of community that permeated the film; there was a community that strived together. Looking at the support these ladies received from family, from their Church and from neighbors made me question the black community today and the efforts we were taking to move forward, especially with the current president. Sometimes, it seems that our community — (the black community) — isn’t united; conversations are centered on confining each other to a limited definition of what being black is like, instead of lifting each other up in our different experiences and senses of self.
It was this disjointed mindset that used to cause me to only crave knowledge about my people merely to debunk stereotypes. To prove to other people how great black people were: how we could make nice art, and build oversized buildings, how we were strong and rich in mind, since the world seemed to think we were the opposite of all this. Of course, now I know better — that the strength of the black race is not about what someone thinks of our ancestors’ way of life; how they think about our traditions, our skin, or our experiences. What I am proud of is simply who we are and our heritage, and no sane person could deny those things. Movies like Hidden Figures remind me that ability is not limited by skin color; these black women did the best they simply could, and made a name for themselves and pioneered a way for all of us in the black community. They were content in themselves, and I hope the black community will find the same solace of self they did.
Though I am well aware of the accomplishments of the black community, sometimes I think we need a reminder to stand together and keep moving forward, and this movie was a strong reminder. It is a reminder that if change could be made in the segregation era, there would be nothing that President Trump could do to stop us from accomplishing all we want to, even in light of setbacks, because if we were stronger than the oppressive government at that time, then we are definitely stronger than President Trump now.
Here is my initial reaction on Facebook after watching the movie:
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