As I watched television as a kid, I never really saw African American representation.This made me feel as if I had no inspiration or even a cartoon with my skin color to look up to when I was a kid. When I started seeing characters like Tiana, Jasmine or Doc McStuffins on Disney, it made me feel special and I wanted to be just like them.
Also, it relieved me in a way as I got older because of finally seeing diversity. As I find myself in the movie “Hidden Figures,” I found this important to me because of embracing myself as a proud black woman, being proud to show my intelligence through education and inspiring me to never hide my strengths because of the judgment around me.
“Hidden Figures” was made in 2016 and was directed by Theodore Melfi. This film tells the story of three African American women who worked as mathematicians for NASA in the 1960s: Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician; Dorothy Vaughan, a mathematician and supervisor; and Mary Jackson, a mathematician and engineer. They faced racial and gender discrimination, but they overcame the obstacles and contributed to some of the most important space missions in U.S. history.
After I had watched the movie, I recognized who I am as an African American female involving my education. In school, I had learned about the 1960s and the varieties of how discrimination with race and even gender was changing into a worse environment. I wish I could have learned more about these topics because both influence me heavily as a person and I feel as if this movie really helped a lot. I had felt feelings of anger, sadness and fear because of seeing the reality of discrimination within the film and how it is still affecting African Americans and even me today.
I had grown up in Harrisburg when I was little, and the education was very bad, and I never really had assistance or help from preschool to fourth grade. After that, I had moved to an all-white school district in York County at the end of fourth grade and was very behind everyone else. I was looked at as a dumb black girl who was just going to fail because I did not have their skin color or privileges they had all their life with education.
I eventually caught up and even was ahead of everyone when it had come to education around my high school years. I never missed an assignment, got all A’s on my tests and quizzes and always studied. Fast forward to now and I have graduated with a 4.0 GPA, worked hard on my education and will continue to do so. The reason as to why I am saying all of this is because this film motivated me to strive for success with my education.
This film matters to me because I feel more confident in embracing myself as a proud black woman. “Hidden Figures” ignited a national conversation about the importance of African American women in STEM careers. I had found interest in mathematics, and I am an accounting major here at Shippensburg University. African American women are usually underrepresented in STEM fields, and “Hidden Figures” reminds us of what they can achieve.
Katherine Johnson inspired me the most because of the struggles she had fought just for being a black woman and embracing her intelligence. One example could be that she would walk miles to just use the bathroom because of there being no restroom where she worked for black women. Another is having her own coffee cup because of no one else wanting to touch the same coffee pot because of the color of her skin. In one scene, she gets yelled at for leaving her job to use the bathroom and she defended herself.
She yelled with pain in her tone about the way she was treated at her job until they had finally given her both a restroom and shared coffee pot. That showed me as an African American woman that I am just as equal as white people too and the judgment I may get for how I look, dress or even just not being the skin color people may wish me to be, is able to be ignored those judgments because of the confidence she had given me throughout this film.
“Hidden Figures” has impacted my importance in finding myself. I was able to embrace myself as a proud black woman through the characters within the film. I am proud to show my intelligence through education because of how the girls strive for success even through struggles of discrimination both gender and race. Finally, I was inspired to never hide my strengths because of the judgment around me. These all were ways that I was never shown as a kid through television. It took time for me to find African American characters like Tiana, Jasmine or even Doc McStuffins to have looked up as a role model or even someone I wanted to become. Overall, I am glad “Hidden Figures” has provided me with a way of finding my true self.