The Hidden Figures movie is the previously untold story (based on a novel by Margot Lee Shetterly) of three black women who were instrumental in ensuring the success of NASA’s mission to reach space during the Space Race with Russia.
In a time when segregation was very much still in effect, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) worked in the white male-dominated science industry and quickly rose above the pitifully low expectations of their colleagues.
Their story should have been told decades ago, but the fact that it has come center-stage now is still something to be celebrated.
Black women are still constantly underestimated and underappreciated in every industry and arena; we’re slowly but surely moving towards a change, but stories like Hidden Figures are the catalysts we need to keep that going.
Watching that movie brought tears to my eyes more than once, because it reminded me of just how far we still have to go. Not only are Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine real signs of what we as black women can accomplish in this life, how much greatness we’re capable of, but so are Octavia, Janelle, and Taraji.
Those three actresses, each with significant success under their belts already, dominated the screen and brought us history that we didn’t even know we were desperate for. Each of them has experienced the prejudices that still exist in the entertainment industry, from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy to the Hollywood wage gap.
As young black women pursuing our own dreams, we can look to all six of these women and know with certainty that the road ahead is long, but all we need to do is make sure we’re well-equipped for the journey and stay determined to go on even when things get difficult.
The reality is, we’re luckier than they were because they paved the way for us. Institutional racism is very much present, but we have the freedom to do whatever we want to in 2017. We can and should take advantage of every opportunity at our disposal.
Whatever your dream is — to be a writer, an engineer, a business-owner, a doctor, a lawyer — go after it with everything you have and don’t let anyone stop you.
Hidden Figures is in theaters now.
Bradleigh is a co-founder and content curator for The Sirens Rise with a BA in Media Studies. Her favorite things to do are listen to music, get lost in a book, write for hours, and eat way more chocolate than one human being ever should.