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Film Review


Hidden Figures

by Jhay de Jesus


Hidden Figures is a biographical film. It features the story of three women of color (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson) who have asserted themselves and showed that women are equally capable as men in doing major tasks. They worked in NASA at the time where the US was racing with Russia in reaching the space.


The story started showcasing Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji Henson), a gifted child in Math. As a Math wizard, she was way advanced than girls of her age bracket. She was a soft-spoken and sweet single mom to her three kids.


Another is Dorothy Vaughan (as played by Octavia Spencer).  Though not getting the proper recognition for her work, she supervises “computers” (these were all black women who do all the computing—hence, the term computers—for their plan to bringing astronauts to space).


The third character is Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe), an aspiring engineer who was working in the assembly of the actual space shuttle that will be used. Mary wanted to be the first woman (and of color) engineer in NASA, she even filed a court petition so that she could enroll in an all-white school—which was eventually granted—and sooner graduated to be one.


Living and working in a “man’s world” (ultimately a white man’s world), was such a tough situation for these women. You can even witness Katherine would run back-and-forth between their office and the comfort room assigned for people-of-color. Dorothy on the other hand, has never stopped asserting her actual promotion since she is already doing the responsibilities of a supervisor. And Mary, had to juggle going to her school (she was granted to attend the night school), taking care of her family, and performing her task in NASA.


Their story is such an inspiration to all women, particularly to all women-of-color, as they have proven that assertion and never stopping will bear good fruit in the end.


We all know that in the 60s, black people (or people of color, in general) have experienced living the worst in an “all-white” world. Does everyone know that in the past, there was a divide: assigned comfort rooms or even water fountains and coffee kettles for black people separate from the whites?


Transgender people must not have been surprised as it is a huge struggle for them now—comfort room issue is like a ghost haunting the trans people now.


The struggle of the black people back then was and is monumental in the history of humanity.   And clearly, the women’s struggle had a vital part in how black peoples achieved most of the good fruits of their struggle.


This is a must-watch movie, especially for the young generation of women.


I would like to end this with some words from Martin Luther King’s speech entitled “I Have a Dream” – something that WE MUST NOT FORGET – it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Or stated better, that all humans are created equal.###


Jhay de Jesus is part of the KILUSAN National Secretariat and currently the spokesperson for True Colors Coalition (the LGBT arm of KILUSAN).