I headed out yesterday to see the movie surrounded by all the buzz this weekend—Hidden Figures. What a brilliant film.
It’s pretty hard not to be inspired by 3 African-American women who got things done against all odds. Margot Lee Shetterly’s story about 3 black women who against insurmountable hurdles, conquered and persevered in a male-dominated elite and racist environment, was brought to the big screen in a fantastic way. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Butler) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) were 3 of the brightest minds of their time. You have an outstanding mathematician, NASA’s first African-American female engineer, and their first African-American supervisor and FORTRAN expert all come together to basically help change NASA’s Space Program forever.
The “West Computers”, as they were known, had to be meticulous and accurate with their calculations. That, of course, goes without being said. All the while, working in a segregated area, being paid below their white peers and looked upon as simply ‘the help’. Imagine running miles away, back and forth during your workday to use the only washroom designated to you as a black person. Imagine being purposefully kept out of key meetings that you should be attending in order to facilitate your job. There are numerous situations that I won’t even get into. Not looking to lay down any spoilers and such!
These ladies went through it all and more. Being a woman. Being intelligent. Being black. Remember, this all took place circa the 1960s. A time when living was arduous. Where everything was divided by colour. When the back of the bus was the only place to sit and rest your tired feet after a long work day and where looking for required information in the wrong side of the library is cause for removal and ejection.
If it’s one thing that I left the theatre with yesterday was mad inspiration. The movie captures the feel-good vibe of the ladies achieving new highs, but they also made sure viewers understood the tribulations, aggravations and struggles they had to endure. And in every situation, they took action and did what they had to do to pursue their dream. So my question to you is—what’s your excuse? Hell, what’s my excuse? We always use our excuses as a crutch to quell our fears, knowing full well that kicking down the proverbial door of trepidation is basically the way to go. These ladies showed me that even with your fears overpowering your gusto, accompanied with purposefulness, tenacity and persistence, gusto wins out. So I’m going to walk in the spirit of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. As cliché as it sounds, we can attain and achieve what others see as the impossible.