Hidden Figures is the Inspirational film that black people
as a whole really needed to see this year. It headlines with the star power such as the
academy award winning Taraji P. Henson as Mrs. Katherine Johnson, the academy
award winning Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Dorothy Vaughn, and the Grammy award
winning Janelle Monae as Mrs. Mary Jackson. Hidden Figures tells the story of
how three brilliant and brave black women become the very foundation of the
engineering and computing of NASA’s role in the infamous Space Race.
Through sheer determination and will these ladies blow past the obstacles of
racism and discrimination and literally fly over the stumbling blocks of sexism
to become some of the brightest minds to grace the National Aeronautics Space
first. This movie shows Black People, more specifically Black Women,
succeeding, overcoming, and winning on the big screen. Just like with Colin
Kapernick, Marvel’s Black Panther, and all the Black Women into the Olympics:
representation matters. It’s important for us as a people to have positive
images shown to us to remind us who we are and what we’re capable of. This sets
into the mind conscious and subconsciously and ignites the fire of
excellence in us all. Sometimes just the glimpse of someone making the impossible
possible is just what’s needed to inspire greatness.
But what we don’t need is a false story strategically placed
in our narratives that cater to the white savior complex. For those that are
unfamiliar with the term “white savior”, it is a situation found in books and
often in Hollywood in which a white character is seen as needed to rescue
people of color from their awful predicament. This Caucasian “hero” usually
stumbles on learning more about themselves in the midst of their heroic deeds.
Examples of this heinous crime can be found in movies like Django, Glory, The
Help, Mr. Church, Lincoln, Last Samurai, The Blind Side, and many others.
Some white savior moments can be found in this box office
hit. The first strong whiff of this comes after Katherine Johnson, played by
Taraji P. Henson, comes back to her desk soaked from the rain after running
across NASA’s campus to use the only colored women’s restroom in the facility.
Soon after her frustrations were rightfully expressed to her supervisor AL
Harrison, Kelvin Coster, he notices and removes the colored sign on the coffee
machine and proceeds in the next scene to remove the colored sign above the
restroom with a crowbar. Now when I saw this in New York for the first time it
was before the nation wide release date. The audience cheered and applauded his
actions! And to be honest it did feel good to see what seemed like a win and
turnaround for us. Unfortunately, this apparently never happened.
According to Margot Lee Shetterly, author who wrote the book “Hidden Figures”,
to which the movie is based on, she reveals that Johnson used the white
restrooms and refused to use the colored restrooms. Now that’s the
boldness I would love to see on the big screen.
Another fictional scene is the moment when Johnson
brilliantly calculated the coordinates for John Glenn’s launch and delivered
them to mission control. Once passed the doors slammed in her face and she was
denied entry, at least until our hero Harrison gave her clearance to enter and
take part in the success of the mission she greatly contributed to. In an
interview with Katherine Johnson she explained that she was not admitted to
enter mission control at the time of the launch. It is said in the book
that she “sat tight in the office, watching the transmission on a television.
Theodore Melfi insisted that there is nothing wrong with placing a white savior
in the African-American biopic. “There needs to be white people who do the
right thing and there needs to be Black people who do the right thing, but who
cares who does the right thing as long as the right thing is achieved?“
care! POC have had their history rewritten, copied, erased, and
whitewashed to favor people it has nothing to do with and is shown as false
evidence to make white people feel better. It is not acceptable to rewrite
our history to appease your guilty conscience. When you come across a story in
which black people do the right thing AND white people do the right thing, feel
free to write that movie script. I will buy my ticket early and cheer at the
appropriate times. Until then, save your white savior moments for the sequel to
Back to the biopic, remember that every film made about the
Black race and the struggle endured was 10x worse than displayed in that
particular film. As sad as it is, it is the
truth. It shows a glimpse of what our people were truly dealing with
during this era. Some of which has trickled its way down to today. Maybe
they don't want to be remembered on the wrong side of history, that’s
why they do it. Well hopefully Hollywood will cease the white savior nonsense
one day. That may be the same day when the “All Lives Matter “crew finally
realizes that statement is false unless Black Lives Matter.