[SCS] Six Ways ‘Hidden Figures’ Gave Me My Whole Life
This week’s self-care Saturday activity was seeing Hidden Figures with the hubs. Even though we had to wait until Sunday to see it (snow storm), it was totally, 1000% worth the wait. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, OMG what are you waiting for?? This movie is a must see for everyone. I walked out of the theatre knowing that I would 1) buy the book, 2) buy the movie, and 3) live my purpose.
Yup, it was that powerful.
And I didn’t know how much I needed the message of that movie in this moment until I saw it.
NOTE: This post will spoil some details for those who haven’t seen the movie yet. This is your warning.
There are a ton of recaps and reactions to Hidden Figures all over the interwebs, so I’m not going to rehash the plot of the movie. Instead, I’m giving you an unranked list of my favorite parts.
Ready, set, go.
Seeing Black women stand both on their own and with each other
Far too often, Black women in movies are the supporting cast. We’re the sassy secretaries. We’re the tell-it-like-it-is co-workers who are never seen doing actual work. We’re rarely actual people. We’re the hidden figures. (Oh. Snap.)
Not so much in Hidden Figures. The three main characters are “support” staff in the sense that they are supporting various aspects of NASA’s mission, but it is very clear that they are capable of much more. And they know it, which is also rare. In the movies, there is usually some White savior character who has to inspire the Black person to fulfill their potential. Here, the Black characters inspired each other. They knew their worth, knew the abilities of each other, and were there to provide the support necessary for each of them to reach their goals. This is more like real life.
When Katherine ripped everyone a new one
We’ve all had moments at work when your boss makes you want to yell about everything. Couple normal workplace frustrations with indignities of Jim Crow laws, and you get the epic monologue that Katherine (Taraji P. Henson) delivered to her boss. This scene was so well acted. I could feel her frustration through the screen. It made me want to clap and cry at the same time.
The ‘I will not hide’ clothes
I loved the way the clothes were used to make the main characters stand out. Katherine worked in a room full of White guys in white shirts, black pants, and skinny ties. Her outfits were always bold – bright teals and reds – which caused her to stand out even more than she already did. Same with Mary (Janelle Monae). Her outfits were pure dopeness. I love that they didn’t even try to blend in. So often, Black women in such settings are encouraged to be as invisible as possible. Even now, we get the message about not speaking up, speaking out, or being too conspicuous. These women (via the costume designers) said fuck that. And I’m all for it.
When Dorothy fixed the computer
When Dorothy (Octavia Butler) taught herself how to code the computer, my soul smiled. Homegirl saw the writing on the wall (that her job would be replaced by the machine) and did what she needed to do to make sure she would be indispensable. That level of foresight and initiative is rare, and how she got the materials to learn the computer was so badass! Dorothy was my husband’s favorite character in the movie.
Any time Katherine was at the chalkboard
Katherine at the chalkboard = Katherine doing math. Katherine doing math = the dopest thing. Her chalkboard scenes reminded me of the math scenes from Good Will Hunting and A Beautiful Mind, but the context made them a zillion times more resonant for me. Here is this Black woman in a room full of White guys, showing them how it’s done. Their faces often went from bemusement to amazement, and it was so fun to watch. Having been in the same sort of situation more times than I can count, I felt to connected to these moments.
Also, I super suck at math. Watching her do it was like watching a wizard do a spell. So cool.
When I regained a sense of purpose
Hidden Figures inspired me to get my shit together. Like, for real. I’ve been struggling with some solopreneur-related stuff, and the feeling of pride and inspiration I felt upon leaving the theatre made stuff click. I’ve always known that I could do whatever I set my mind to, but my issue has always been What should I set my mind to? Watching these three women unabashedly do what they do and live their purpose got me thinking about my own. I’m not trying to put people into space, but I am trying to help people get into the right space for themselves. And I think I know how to do it.
Stay tuned for that part… And GO SEE HIDDEN FIGURES! If you haven’t seen it, see it. If you have, see it again. I know I plan to.
And did I mention that the theatre had reclining seats?? Ah so great.