It seems most fitting to begin this piece by stating that mathematician Katherine Johnson is a genius. Thus, a movie celebrating black brilliance sounds progressive, however the actual portrayal renders Johnson a “hidden figure” in a supposed commemoration of her legacy.
The film briefly shows audiences a young Katherine, whose academic ability foments opportunity despite the obvious oppression of the early 20th century. The film attempts to inspire audiences though depicting Johnson’s contribution to launching the first American body into space. However, in actuality Hidden Figures illustrates that black brilliance yields white advancement.
Audiences watch Johnson put in long hours, travel forty minutes to use the bathroom and endure a segregated coffee machine. Subversively, the film suggests that the only place for a black intellect is in a white world. This conflict is not exclusive to this film, but extended to all encompassed by the phrase “the first black (fill in the blank)” While this phrasing appears complimentary, it shifts the focus away from the individual of African descent to the white vessel who “accepts” them.
In Hidden Figures, this white vessel is Al Harrison, played by Kevin Costner. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy scenes is Costner breaking down the segregated restroom signs. The scene received zealous plaudits from a stadium sized theatre. This applause undoubtedly erupted due to the mostly white audience’s attempt to overtly align themselves with Harrison’s seemingly integrative initiative. For me, this scene provoked an adverse reaction.
Watching this scene brought me back to a Dr. Carr lecture I attended almost a decade ago. During this lecture, Dr. Carr said that “nothing has been done for blacks that did not benefit others.” Namely, these segregated signs existed at NASA although there were no no black individuals worked in this particular wing. Thus, the signs served no direct purpose but to remind those who cleaned the facilities that they were good enough to scrub toilets but not sit on them. Thus, Harrison’s acts are not commendable—they’re selfish. This very deed exposes the fault in integration. The segregated bathroom only becomes an issue when it deterred white initiative. Namely, only when segregation proved an obstacle to his advancement and reputation was it taken down. It is this selfishness, not ideas of equality or unity, that continues to fuel black inclusion in traditionally white spaces.
Before concluding this article, I would like to state that my criticism is not to take away from Mrs. Katherine Johnson’s legacy. This article does function to state that this film is not an accurate depiction of this legacy. I would love to have learned more about her life pre-Nasa, the parents who raised her, her experience at school, how she balanced motherhood and work, and the strength it took to raise three young kids as a young widow. Hidden Figures abbreviates Mrs. Johnson’s life, making her a largely enigmatic figure in a film that is seemingly about her. Johnson’s hidden figure status in her own film suggests that all black excellence yields hidden figure status in a white supremacist society. In veiling sentiments of deprived visibility, the film highlights how imperative it is that we as black tell “our story” and not his-story. For the moral of the story is not Johnson’s greatness, but what history continually tells in in films like 42, The Blind Side and The Help, which is simply that blacks can do anything if whites think they are special.
Article by C.C. Saunders
The film Moonlight came out back in October. I meant to do a post about it and never got around to it. But I heard that it was getting rave reviews by white film critics. Some were calling it “powerful” and “best film of the year”. When I heard it had a black cast it peaked my interest. But I knew that if white critics loved it the film must have some type of black degradation in it. It has to promote one of the following: black criminals, black whores,drug addiction,interracial sex,lesbians,homosexuality and black self destruction. It’s always a pattern with black films promoted by the white media. Just like the horrible film Precious that promoted nothing but black death and destruction. So when I saw the trailer….I knew I was right. This is more black pathology. I saw this morning on the news that Moonlight got six Golden Globe nominations. This should not be surprising at all. The film is directed by Barry Jenkins. I’m sure he will become the “new Lee Daniels”. Here is the synopsis from the website:
“A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, MOONLIGHT chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.”
The video(above) is with one of the actors in the film,Andre Holland. He plays a homosexual in the film. In this interview he explains there are “different shades to masculinity and black manhood”. And I think that’s the motive of films like this. This film is nothing but a “black gay coming of age” film. The racist white media promotes these type of films and give them awards because it supports THEIR agenda. They want to redefine black manhood and masculinity. They want to reshape us from being warriors and protectors of our neighborhood…into being homosexuals,queers and cross dressers. White actors play mostly heroes and saviors while black men are given awards for playing homosexuals????Hmmmmm…..something is wrong with that picture. These type of films are an insult to our intelligence. Also the films stars Mahershala Ali,Naomie Harris,Janelle Monae and Ashton Sanders. And Naomie Harris plays the crack addicted mother. You know the drug abuse always has to be there in a black film right? This is just more Hollywood propaganda. In the next few weeks you’ll be hearing a lot about this film. But don’t fall for it. I’m asking all my subscribers do NOT support this film. Save your damn money. This is more anti-black,pro-gay,pro-black death and black self destruction. Black actors will always be rewarded for this type of homophile filth. Peace brothers and sisters and always stay vigilant!