Reflecting On: Hidden Figures

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If you haven’t already seen the Oscar nominated movie Hidden Figures, then my friend, you are missing out. It is a feel good period piece about a group of extremely intelligent black women who do what a room of white men cannot: sending a man out into space and bringing him home safely, all whilst still taking care of their families back home. In this movie Hollywood finally lets us see black women in a different light from what we’re used to seeing; no stereotypical maids, no slaves, no depressed wives, no sassy best friends. We see real woman, that lived real lives.

You’re probably thinking that this movie completely failed at the box office right? Understandable I guess. However shockingly, at its opening weekend the movie made a whopping $22.8 million dollars, generating $167.6 million dollars and even knocked the latest Star Wars epic off its number 1 box office slot to take its place at number one. I would say that’s one point for intersectionality on the scoreboard. We can only hope that this is enough of a sign for Hollywood to finally get the picture and leave outdated stereotypes in the past. Fingers crossed.

I went to the movie not really knowing anything about it, spurred on by an acquaintance’s speech for the need to support black movies. I had heard good reviews and was a fan of the lead actresses, so I had some high expectations although as I said I wasn’t too sure what the movie was about.

(For those who want an official synopsis Hidden Figures, according to IMDB.com, is “The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.”)

What surprised me about Hidden Figures, even more than the movies amazing box office success, was that these women had been such an integral part of something as groundbreaking as the space race in the 20th century and I had absolutely no idea of their existence, which is bad on my part for not doing my own research. I mean it’s not like i’m a history buff or anything but shouldn’t the existence of these women and the other great women in history be taught to us when we were growing up? Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie. I felt so good watching it, it’s the type of movie I’d want my future daughter to see; however I just had this annoyed feeling at the back of my mind at the fact I knew literally nothing of these great women.
As I exited the cinema, I left with an urge to delve deeper into the realms of google and history sites to find out more about great women like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Let’s see who else society has left in the shadows.