Hidden Figures, Representation, and Inspiration
I saw Hidden Figures last night, and it was incredible.
I feel overwhelmingly proud to be both woman and black woman, two roles that, in this world, feel very different at times.
Mary, Dorothy, and Katherine broke past both gender and racial barriers, simultaneously, with strength, courage, wit, yet class, resting in the power of their own confidence and knowledge to carry them through the fight.
They went after what they wanted, went over and beyond what was required, and didn't let any law, protocol, or faux manual stop them.
It breaks my heart though knowing that their stories are only now being told. We've all been overly educated about NASA and its explorations and the moon landing and the astronauts and Russia and the space race and all of the other fascinating details about our journey beyond Earth, all throughout grade school.
Yet somehow the black women who helped make it happen — with no intended — became nameless, faceless, hidden figures. You mean to tell me that there were black women who worked as HUMAN COMPUTERS?! For NASA?! And we never knew?!
When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how many little girls would have benefited from this story had it been told a long time ago. I wonder how many little geniuses have overlooked their own gifts and talents because they didn't know someone who looked like them could actually use them to make a difference.
That's the importance of representation. I think that's why Hidden Figures is everything we need right now. Little girls, especially little black girls, need to see what type of magic they have running through their veins, and in turn, what they can become. They need to see that their potential can make history.
When I left the theater, I told my mom, "I wish I was that good with numbers!" But I'm not a mathematician, engineer, or computer expert by any stretch of the imagination.
However, like us all, I have my own unique talents, and now I feel more inspired than ever to go a million times harder in what I know I'm good at. To not be intimidated by a white dominated or male dominated field. To put in the overtime and the extra work. To not let obstacles placed in my way stop me from reaching my final destination.
Reflecting on our history and all of the brilliant people who paved the way by doing what others were afraid to do makes me want to snatch the fiery torch from where they left it and run a new race to pave new ways for those who will come after me.
So to Katherine Johnson and to the late Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, I salute you for what you've done for us, for breaking barriers you didn't have to break, for running so that we can fly, for showing us that anything is possible, and for setting the example for generations to come about what hard work, courage, and strength can do for us all. I am forever indebted.