Socialist Worker

Hidden Figures offers a high hope that the sky is the limit

by Saba Shiraz
Issue No. 2543

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (Pic: 20th Century Fox)


Powerful and moving, Hidden Figures reveals the true story of three black women who worked for Nasa. They ended up playing leading roles during the early years of the US space programme.

The film captures the dedication and vigor needed to succeed and be taken seriously as an African American woman at a time when segregation was still rife in the US.

The story follows the struggles of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine G. Johnson and Mary Jackson. They fight to create the space for black women to contribute directly as part of a previously all-white team at Nasa.

They juggle being mothers alongside working full time.

One of the most refreshing aspects of this insight into their family life is the portrayal of the men in their lives. Their husbands and love interests are secondary characters, which is usually the focus for female characters.

The men are shown in this role-reversal supporting, listening to and having deep respect for the women working full time and providing for their children.

Racism

The film also perfectly illustrates all aspects of racism at the time.

It’s not only about the violence black people faced but emphasises the institutionalised, everyday racism that sustained and normalised division.

It exposes the reality of segregation but also the different ways people resisted through protests like the Freedom Riders or fighting in the courts and petitioning for equality.

The backdrop to the film represented the different elements of the Civil Rights Movement—although the main characters fought to be recognised as a part of the system rather than resisting it.

It uncovers how unnatural and irrational the barriers for black people were in the US. Racism stood in the way of science and discovery.

Hidden Figures is not just a film, it is an experience. It is not just entertainment, it is a lesson and it is necessary.

It is so rare and so beautiful to watch a film where black women are represented in such a strong and positive way.

The characters were not just fighting for opportunities, they were fighting for their existence.

When US president Donald Trump is provoking anger and hatred, Hidden Figures offers hope that anything is possible.


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