Friday, December 30, 2016

Three Reasons Hidden Figures Reminded Me I'm Ready for Trump's America

The ladies of Hidden Figures and their actresses on screen
Hidden Figures could not have come out at a better time - for the country and for me personally.

This drama based on the lives of women who were literally hidden from the history books of one of the most significant accomplishments of NASA in history, John Glenn's orbiting the earth in 1962.

I loved the film from start to finish and there were three significant reasons why this film moved me as it did going into 2017.

Black Women As Humans

While the movie shows us the extraordinary intelligence of three very different Black women, it also delves into each of their humanness. We don't see super human fearless "strong black women," We actually see women with fears, hopes and dreams. We see women depending on each other and community for support. We see women standing up for themselves while simultaneously doubting if they have the right to do so. We see the true complexity Black women face as leaders both at home and in the workplace. This film "goes in" on the story behind the story that we often miss on film about ourselves. We see laughter, tears and gritting of teeth by three glorious Black women - we get a full range of emotions versus the stereotypical angry Black woman narrative. We do see them get angry but we also see them experience joy, satisfaction and contentment.

This was especially touching to me as I've explored how I tap into my full range of emotions. I was raised to be strong and even on a recent phone call as I was breaking down talking about my divorce, I was admonished to 'be strong" by my dad. He meant no harm but has no idea how strong I am letting myself feel my pain. It is counter culture for Black women. We are bred to push on and push through. So glad to see pop culutre catch up to my new reality.

Black Women Pioneering

I've often wondered if my spirit of ingenuity was just me or if it was innate in being a Black woman in America. After seeing this movie, I'm convinced it's indeed both. When you look in spaces where Black women enter as the 'onlies," we have a habit of elevating that space and it never being the same. Katherine Goble as an addition to the NASA task force team as a "computer" changed that team forever, how they worked, how they looked at their work and even how their work was received by the astronauts. Look around you today, so many Black women out of sheer brute force -  create, initiate and drive innovation in our country, most often in the shadows of mediocre White people. Yet, we shine anyhow.

Heading into the 7th year of my business, expanding our offering so much and taking a leadership role in driving equity discussion and action, pioneering is something not only I need to do, but something our country needs me to do. Much like the ladies in this movie, the conditions require my best thinking and resilience to drive our country forward to its true future. Then, it was the Space Race with the Soviet Union, now it's shaping what United States of America we will be - one that leverages and utilizes the talents and contributions of all its citizens or  a country that only cares about the advancement of a choice few. You know which one I'm working towards and like the ladies in Hidden Figures - we will win.

Black Women Having A Second Chance At Love (Movie Spoiler Alert)

The central character of the film Katherine Goble is a widow with three beautiful children we see early in the film. She manages her stringent work and mothering with the live-in help of her own mom. When a local military man moves home, her squad is adamant about hooking her up with him. The movie takes us through their awkward dating life which is scarce due to the hours she puts in at NASA to his grand and no less awkward proposal. There are only a few more subtle references to her marriage and we see very little of the relationship in the movie but it was significant enough that one of the films postscripts alerts us that Katherine and her second husband Jim Johnson recently celebrated 56 years of marriage together. Instant tears of joy from me.

Anyone who's been in my life or even casually observing has seen the way the dissolution of my 15 year marriage has wrecked me personally this past year.  Even as I am typing through tears to write this post, I am experiencing my first holiday without my kids and as a single person. I absolutely STILL believe that I will have a 20 year wedding anniversary. 15 months ago, I thought it might be with Isael Barreto but I now know differently. I know I am an amazing catch, perhaps pressed for time and focused on building a business and reforming government but still a woman who wants a partner. Seeing Katherine Goble meet and marry someone gave me life. Why? Some days, I cannot even imagine how I'll make time for a new man in my life and that stretches even more trying to imagine the man who will be man enough to love and cherish me with all my intensity and drive. But seeing that on film and knowing it played out in real life for another brilliant Black woman gives me hope.

Hidden Figures is a movie for such a time as this. If those ladies could excel and drive our nation's transformation back into leadership in the Space Race, under the conditions they faced in 1960s United States of America - BRING ON the next administration.

I am ready.

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