“Every time we have a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line. Every time.” – Mary Jackson played by Janelle Monáe
First and foremost, the movie “Hidden Figures” spoke to me on so many levels. If you have yet to see it, you are possibly missing out on one of the most inspiring and uplifting films in a very long time. In my humble opinion, of course. Since there were so many lessons about strength, community, and success to pick up from the film, I figured it was only right to share them with you.
In the film, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, the main characters, all showcase different aspects of strength. Like the quote I shared above, these women got ahead of the finish line on their own terms. Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine were “computers” at NASA, meaning they calculated formulas and data for the space program. Now, I do not want to spoil the movie for you and re-tell the entire story. So, take the gaps of context as inspiration to watch the movie if you have yet to. All three women fought against obstacles in their careers in a way that was so classy and confident. Dorothy took initiative to teach herself how to program a new machine and chose to bring her whole group of “computers” up to a new level instead of leaving them behind. Mary refused to take “no” as an answer and persuaded the legal and political system to work for her. Katherine had her work speak for itself and pushed for a seat at the table. Their strength, individually and collectively, was supported by a kind of determination we can learn from.
With all the issues swirling through our news feed and newspapers, the increasing interest in activism will always need guidance. There is not one way to solve these issues. That is why all aspects of strength are needed to make a difference. The goal or direction should be guided by the notion that either we all win or nobody wins. That progresses the discussion to clarify what winning means. Is it justice? A conviction? A ban? An apology? Could it be all of the above? That is on a grand scale, but what about individually or personally. What would winning mean to you? How will your fight lead to your win?
I feel the film was directed and written very well. Instead of primarily focusing on racism or negative experiences, the film emphasized what the three women achieved to enhance that nation’s goal to launch into space. In spite of the struggle (and we all know the struggle was real), they proved America’s success, which in this case was the race for space exploration, needed to include and benefit everyone. In that regard, it is a story that is accessible to all people. As important as it is to be informed with all aspects of history, stories about slavery, apartheid, Jim Crowe, etc tend to be appreciated only by certain groups and are bypassed by those who feel we need to “move on.” The film “Hidden Figures” bridges all of those groups with one goal: collective victory. Even though some parts of the film are fiction, it still gets that message across.
What would collective victory look like today? How can we get all groups to recognize the value of each other? These are not easy solutions and are possibly more difficult than what Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine experienced. The struggle is not the same for everyone. It is a delicate balance between advocating for equality and not imposing your opinions on how others should feel. The key is to keep the bigger picture in focus.
The story teaches us that perseverance and resilience need to be supported by community. From family, to neighbors, to church, to work, there was a solid connection between the community Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine came from. They cheered for and supported each other. They stood up for each other. We need more of that today. We need to care more for each other, not to get something out of it, but really for the sake of caring.
Well, all in all, I loved the movie. Have you seen “Hidden Figures” yet? What resonated with you? Let me know in the comments below.
Wearing: Asos blazer; The Limited blouse; New York & Company skirt; DSW heels; JORD Wood Watch; Aldo purse; Aldo earrings