Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here!
Last night, I finally got to see Hidden Figures (although I didn’t read the book) and it brought up some things that I feel need to be said.
First, if you have not seen this movie yet then I highly recommend that you do. Not just because it’s a good movie but because it’s a good history lesson.
As I’ve mentioned before (and I’m sure a lot of POC have had this discussion) it’s incredibly frustrating that we only learn any African American history during Black History Month and even then it’s only slavery and the same three civil rights activists.We hardly learn anything about Native American or Asian cultures and the only mention of anything Latinx/Hispanic is Spanish Colonialism. Then again, what do you expect when the authors of most history texts books are almost all white and predominately men.
The movie displays a lot of struggles that people of color and women have faced. Not only in the past, but today as well. Nothing is more insulting than people assuming that your intelligence level must be incredibly low due to identities that you can’t change. That you have to have simple things explained to you because you delicate little female brain certainly can’t handle the information that a man’s brain can hold. And if you’re a woman of color, oh forget it, you’ll just be treated as if you don’t even have a brain to being with.
Sure, segregation is over but that does not mean that we have equality. Women are still facing glass ceilings and POC are still fighting against discrimination. Calling out a problem doesn’t mean that the problem is fixed. There is still work that needs to be done.
If you know me, then you know that Jodi Picoult is my favorite author and Small Great Things, in my opinion, her best work and currently my favorite book of all time. It’s a wonderful novel that tackles the truth of racism in America that so many people are still choosing to ignore. Picoult did a large amount of research to put this books together and it took years to complete but her goal was accomplished.
I pretty much recommend this book to everyone because everyone can learn something from it. If you’re a person of color then you can see yourself in the main character and connect to all of the “subtle” racism that she experienced and think, “wow I know exactly how that feels.” If you’re not POC then you will either learn that you are doing a great job as an ally or you will learn that you – even though you think you’re an ally – have been contributing to the oppression of people of color while thinking that you are helping them. If you find yourself in the latter category then you now have to opportunity to right that wrong. If you are actually racist and you know that, then you’ll probably hate this book as much as I loved it but that’s your own problem to work out.
I really do think that everyone needs to read this book. And I truly appreciate when people get something out of it or learn something. However, you cannot honestly tell me that you had no idea that this is how things were. The proof of this is everywhere. Literally, right in front of you everywhere you go. What people apparently don’t understand about this books is that while all POC’s experiences are unique, we deal with a lot of the same shit. And the ironic thing is, that while this books “opens peoples eyes” for some of us it doesn’t. Not because we don’t get it but because we already knew about all of this. We’ve lived it. This wasn’t just a good story to get lost in and then go back to reality. This is reality. This is my life and the lives of many other people of color, put onto pages, and told by a white woman because hearing the truth from us isn’t good enough. It’s never been enough because nobody gives a shit when we try to tell our own stories. So, while I love this book, it also infuriates me.
THAT is what you need to take away from this book and from this movie. Yes, progress has been made but there is still so much more to do. Reading the book and watching the movie won’t prove you’re an ally, but it can give you a good idea of what still needs to be done. Hopefully, you will be inspired to do something.