Hidden Figures is a fantastic film telling an important story about three black women, a group of people whose contributions are shamefully ignored or preface or relegated to the sidelines in the story of men. Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women who are, first and foremost, STEM professionals in a field (mathematics), and at a workplace (NASA), dominated by white men. They are also mothers, wives, and members of a community. The power of Hidden Figures is showing that not only are they successful at all three at the same time, they are not questioned–at work or at home–in their capacity as mother or wife because they dedicate the same amount of time to the workplace as their male counterparts. Further, these women not only succeed at their jobs, they fight to advance their positions and standing: they demand recognition, titles, and promotions. As if that weren’t enough, they make sure that their coattails are big enough for their other black women coworkers, ensuring the safety of their jobs in an increasingly computerized workplace by becoming experts at programing the very machines that would make their jobs redundant.
While much of the discussion has been encouraging viewership of Hidden Figures for girls of color, I would assert that it is as necessary for boys, and especially white boys, to see this film. Just as girls of color need more stories starring people who look like them, white boys need to see more stories where people that don’t look like them are the star of the show, not the sidekick or are non-existent altogether. White kids, and especially boys, need to see stories that do not take for granted the reality that women are just as capable as them. That people of color are just as capable as them. That innate talent, ability, and being someone special is not only the domain of white boys and men. That opportunity leads to success regardless of gender, race, ability, or ethnicity. We learn by example, and representation in the media matters. The way to equity is influenced by who’s stories we tell. I can only hope that Hollywood takes the success of Hidden Figures to heart and tells more stories of people who don’t look like me.
– Brett Goldberg
For further reading on Hidden Figures, read this post from TeenVogue.