Brief Thoughts After Hidden Figures
I had a chance to see the film Hidden Figures yesterday. Without saying too much for folks who have yet to see it, I share a few fragmented thoughts I had as I left the theater.
I am happy that Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson are being recognized through this film and the conversation it’s creating. It’s important to honor the bridge builders whose work lives and bodies paved the way for us.
We make Black history everyday. Thank you to the Black Women who endured so much racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry as they worked to establish a presence in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and solidarity to the Black Women in STEM today who are continuing that work.
Each time I saw Vivian Michael’s depiction on-screen I couldn’t stop thinking #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen.
Critical Race Theory is an excellent framework through which to view this film. In addition to racism being a normal part of American life in that it is so deeply embedded in all aspects of society, I saw interest convergence: the idea that racial progress occurs to the degree that the white power structure and the white people who maintain it see it being in their best interests as well. I saw this when access was given not because it was the right thing to do, but because it would also benefit white people in some way.
As the credits rolled and I heard Kim Burell’s voice singing through the speakers, I thought of her homophobic sermon and Shirley Caesar’s response. I wondered how they could condemn and demonize people for their sexual orientation, with the same text that was used to justify our enslavement, and other forms of structural racism that were depicted in this film and persist today?
I thought of how that same text has also been used historically, and is currently used today in some spaces to assert that Kim Burell and Shirley Caesar’s work as clergy is illegitimate solely because they are women. Because what is context? What is intersectionality?
It’s not just Burell or Caesar however. The amen’s and agreement from people in the background made them just as complicit although their faces and identities remain hidden.
As I made my way out of the crowded theater I had another thought that I haven’t been able to shake.
“How many of the numerous white people who were in here with me voted for Donald Trump?” Because the place was packed.
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW