#HIDDENFIGURES: Uncovering Our Stories [+ CONTEST]

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We’re in a new year, filled with new dreams, goals, plans, and wishes. On a micro and macro level though, I’m seeing how important it is that we know where we’ve been so that we can know where we’re going. A perfect example of this is the upcoming official premiere of Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. Here’s a synopsis of the film:

Hidden Figures is based on the best-selling non-fiction book written by a Black woman (Margot Lee Shetterly) about three amazing Black women at NASA.

The film recounts the story of the African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson and her two colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who, while working in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center, helped NASA catch up in the Space Race. Using their calculations, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of the Earth.

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When news of this movie came out, the resounding commentary centered around the fact that this incredible story has gone relatively unknown until now. How much of our history – especially the history created by Black women – has gone uncovered?

In my writing last year, it was of great importance to me to use my platforms to share the oft-hidden stories of Black women, past and present:

For The Establishment, I wrote about Black Caribbean women who came to Canada in the 1950s under the country’s West Indian Domestic Scheme.

Over at For Harriet, I wrote about 8 women dancehall artists the world needs to know.

Speaking of dancehall, back at The Establishment I wrote about women in Jamaica’s dancehall culture and how they control their spaces within it.

On the Globe & Mail, I interviewed Eden Hagos, founder of Black Foodie, and discussed the intersections of food, race, and culture.

For Revolt, I featured the women of Gyalcast, to highlight the unique way they helped put Toronto on the map in 2016.

And on this very blog, I recently wrote about Viola Desmond and why she should never be called “Canada’s Rosa Parks.”

With so many people saying “I didn’t know about the women in Hidden Figures!” how do we avoid that same erasure in the future? Hopefully by continuing to uncover our histories and share our stories as they unfold in the present, we’ll be able to combat the disrespect shown to the contributions that marginalized people have made to society. It’s imperative that we not only find ways to learn about the hidden aspects of our relative histories, but to also use whatever platform we have to spread that knowledge to others. When we know better, we can do better.

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I’ve questioned some of Hidden Figures’ marketing strategies (I mean, it’s nice to say that strength, courage, and genius have no gender, limit, and race, but those are very real obstacles these women had to overcome – let’s own that and not sanitize it), but I’m ultimately extremely excited to see the film when it opens this weekend. Little Magician is too young to sit through the flick, but I feel it’ll be one of those oldies but goodies that I’ll bring out for her to watch when she’s older, so that she can be inspired by the accomplishments these women made in the past and – hopefully – how far we’ve come since then, and now.

Are you excited to see Hidden Figures? Comment below and let me know why – you could win a pair of tickets to see it during the crucial opening weekend when it officially opens on January 6th*

*contest open to Canadian residents only

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4 Responses to “#HIDDENFIGURES: Uncovering Our Stories [+ CONTEST]”

  1. Shakera January 3, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    I’m excited because I’ve lived to see a movie opening the new year that stars 3 black female actors who ARE NOT portraying maids or slaves. That in itself is so powerful for this generation… especially our young girls.

  2. Marlene January 3, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    I’m excited to see this movie because it’s real life true story. Representation MATTERS. It is very important for everyone, especially people of colour, to see a movie with Black Women doing significant work in a field traditionally run by white men. This movie and the book it’s based on gives us the opportunity to see black women doing math, becoming STEM scholars, put a man in space, and possibly seeing a black woman in space herself (Dr. Mae Jamison).

  3. Tasha January 3, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    This is such a powerful movie for our young black women! Three amazing role models to add to the list. My mother and I will be watching it together, as she, in her 70’s, didn’t know about these women either! It’s never to late to learn. Can’t wait!

  4. Busayo January 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    I’ve been counting down the days until this movie comes out! I, like so many others, did not know this story. I am looking forward to being inspired by the retelling of the story and the reenactment by 3 very talented Black women.

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