Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hidden or Hiding?

Original book
I saw Hidden Figures this past weekend and sat enthralled by the adversities and achievements of Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson, three African American women who, among many others like them, contributed to NASA's space program in the early 60s. As I marveled at their perseverance during a period of well-documented social injustices, several thoughts crossed my mind:

Too bad it took 50 years for their stories to be told to acclaim and accolades.

Too bad it took years working in a system with incredibly smart people before they could be seen as intellectual equals.

Too bad people are still referring to people by the color of their skin or by their ethnicity instead of seeing them for their character.

It's easy to believe, from what I read, that our country seems to be repeating history even as we celebrate its heroines. Saturday I read about four young men in Rocky Mount, NC, and wondered again what I am supposed to do about what continues to happen in my country.

I thought about what I should do, how I could get involved, for most of 2016. I have been influenced by thought leaders I read online, yet I wonder if I am responding emotionally or intellectually to what I can no longer pretend I don't see.

Do I want to align myself with those thought leaders or walk with those who are hidden? It's hard to know.

Having just admitted that, I want to exonerate myself from the guilt of inaction I feel by sharing with you the different opportunities that are presenting themselves and those that I'm investigating. Still, my privilege feels like a shield I'm hiding behind because I know getting involved will get messy. I don't like messes.

Just because I don't like mess doesn't mean our country isn't one, and doing nothing won't change anything. I am going to do something this year. There are people like Dorothy, Katherine, and Mary worth knowing, and I don't want to hear about their lives 50 years from now through some story on the silver screen.