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Last night I went to the movies. Those of you who know me know that I rarely go to the movies. My attention span isn’t long enough to just sit there being quiet. My nephew will tell you. When he was four I took him to see the Lion King. All of the other little kids were talking and laughing. He was very still and very quiet. I was concerned so I kept asking him if he understood what was going on. He said he did. I wasn’t sure so I kept talking to him about the movie during the movie. When we got home his dad asked him how he liked the movie. I was expecting him to say that it was great hanging out with his aunt so on and so forth. What he said was “She talked during the WHOLE thing, Dad. I need to go back”. And there you have it. Out of the mouths of babes.
So it is a huge deal that I went to see Hidden Figures. I read the book before I went because isn’t that you are supposed to do? Thanks, Mom. The movie was very true to the book with some enhancements. The integrity of the story was not comprised at all. I am not going to give you a play by play about the movie. You need to see it yourself and read the book.
The movie made me realize that all us are on a journey and we have no idea how our choices will impact others. This movie was about true friendships, a true testament for sistergirlfriends, and the notion that being first sometimes means being the only. Many of us understand being the only and often that connotation viewed as negative. Being the only woman, the only African American, the only tall one, the only short one, and so on. Couple that with being the first and that attaches another set of issues. Several people view the first as if it should never happen. We usually hear “No woman (insert the word of your choice here) has ever…” instead of “Wow, since no woman (feel free to insert a different word) has done that this will be ground breaking.” Remember hearing that girls are not good as men in math? Well, maybe if I had known about
There is a lot of hidden talent out there. There are many things that have been done and that are being done quietly. We hear only parts of the story. We get focused on the distractions instead of the miracles. Do you know about Peggy Whitson? Or that blood banks, the refrigerator, the electric trolley, the dust pan, comb, mop, brush, clothes dryer, refrigerator, lawn mower, traffic signals, the pen and the pencil sharpener were invented by African Americans? And what else don’t we know? Minorities have made HUGE contributions to our world, not just our country.
I remember hearing that girls are not as good as boys in math and science. Well, maybe if I had known about Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson I would have tried harder. I mean, these women helped put a man on the moon. It doesn’t get more good at math and science than that. In fact, I am tempted to take classes in math so that I can defy that very thought in my own head.
So think about it. Are you hidden? What are you hiding? Do you know someone else who is? How do we tell our stories? It is our duty to tell our stories. Many people need to hear them. Many people need to know that being only and first are things we should applaud then figure out how to replicate those actions. We are seriously in need of more brilliant people and if those people are women of color Hallelujah.