My thoughts on ‘Hidden Figures’ in honor of Katherine Johnson

With the recent death of Katherine Johnson I thought it would be a nice idea to watch the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ from my backlog in honor of her accomplishments. The movie shows the friendships she had with Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, but also the role she had in changing the way we look at space flight and the position she (and others) had to fight for.

A major storyline in the movie was racism and the segregation laws that were in place during that era. Even though Katherine mentioned that she didn’t experience much racism in real life, it was there and how they portrayed it in the movie struck a chord with me. The movie shows that with good leadership you can change the behavior of others, no matter what the rules are. Like the caste system in India; officially it does not exist and has been abolished since the changes in the Indian Constitution back in 1948. However if you go to India you will see people still abide by it. You need either pressure from the people (protests) OR the top leaders (like government / management) show how it should be.

In ‘Hidden Figures’ we see the NASA director making changes with simple things like removing the signs for separated bathrooms or letting a woman in a briefing. After the change, people had to adapt, but realized that this indeed was the way forward. When I look at the USA, I’ve this feeling segregation / racism / women’s rights / etc. are alive and well due to the same reason.  People look to their leaders for change and currently they are not moving forward. The result is that people are protesting en masse, hopefully resulting in positive changes.  

Even  though I’m not from the USA, it saddens me to see a country in conflict with itself (just like in ‘Hidden Figures’). The time and energy people have to spend fighting for positive change is time that could be used to improve the economy, healthcare or the environment. And it is this which resonates so much with me, because time is the only currency you can spend only once.

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