• Saira D.

Celebrating BLM w/ "Hidden Figures"

Now, more than ever, is the time for reflection on the topic of “Black Lives Matter”. And what better way to reflect on this than with the film, Hidden Figures! A masterpiece in showcasing to the world just how much black lives matter, Hidden Figures is the “behind-the-scenes” story of three African American women whose brains helped lead NASA to unprecedented heights. An epitome for “it’s the inside that counts”, if there ever was one!

Set in the early 1960’s before Neil Armstrong ever walked the surface of the Moon, Hidden Figures tells the story of how the USA got their first man to space, and how it could not have been done without some key people: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson – mathematicians and an engineer. Assisting in the launch and landing coordinates of the Mercury-Atlas 6, the exterior configuration of the ship or “Friendship 7”, and how to work and understand the incredibly new IBM, these three black female protagonists all contributed enormously to aid NASA in the space race, and to launch John Glenn into orbit. So much so this launch might never have even happened without them!

So, what does this tell us besides the fact that these women were undoubtedly incredibly smart? That you should never judge a book by its cover, and of course, that the inside matters far more than the outside. And although these statements are ancient and most likely classified as life lessons you're taught as a child, they're nonetheless statements that hold true regardless of time. It was true when you were a kid in Elementary school, and it’s true now when you're grown and witnessing humanity lay in on one another because some people, have clearly forgotten said truths.

Strange, that something instilled in most human beings at a young age, has completely gone over the head of (sadly, many people in the world I’m sure, but in particular) Americans and/or white Americans. My opinion? That all human beings should be judged by two factors: their character and their mind. Anything else honestly isn't that important, as “it’s the inside that counts”, right! When you deal with people you deal with their emotions, personality traits, ideas, questions and answers – all factors that reside within a person and have no correlation whatsoever, with their outwardly appearance. Let alone, the colour of their skin. I mean really, what does the colour of one’s skin have to do with launching an astronaut into orbit? Well as Hidden Figures demonstrates for us: literally nothing. And because it holds zero importance against things of actual importance (like trying to put the first astronaut of your nation into space), doesn’t that showcase yet again, that it’s what makes up a person – both internally and mentally – that is the only matter of importance? The power of the mind, and specifically the minds of Katherine, Dorothy and Mary, is what can make or break a person. What inspires or disheartens people. What pushes some forward and holds others back. Brains is what gets you places. Beauty and brains is just an old catchphrase, and judging people by the colour of their skin is so ancient a way to think, one should feel ashamed simply just by how far behind with the times they are.

Intelligence aside, Hidden Figures is not only a story of the behind-closed-doors and semi-secret success of NASA in the years leading up to John Glenn’s launch in 1962, but also one of will power, determination, and cold hard belief in oneself. Knowing your capacity and capabilities is just the first step these three protagonists took on their road to success in NASA. But backing these aspects with will power and determination is what led all three women not only to success within NASA, but ultimately a place in history! Katherine Johnson having then been selected to work on the Apollo II mission and the Space Shuttle, gaining an entire computational building dedicated to her and her work for NASA in 2016, and being awarded the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” at 97 years old; Mary Jackson becoming NASA and America’s first female and black aeronautical engineer, and Dorothy Vaughn becoming NASA’s first black supervisor and considered “one of the most brilliant minds at NASA”, with her special aptitude for electronic computing. These are the ground-breaking footprints their legacies left in history. Therefore, what these African American women show us is that a strong sense of belief in yourself, your mind, and capabilities will take you places. And this lesson on internal aspects can be learnt regardless of nationality, religion, backgrounds, ideologies, and anything else humans and society have constructed to separate us from one another.

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