“Hidden Figures” Teaches How Injustices Remain Hidden

I had the pleasure of watching the movie, “Hidden Figures” during opening weekend. It was a birthday gift to myself. I love seeing well written stories and brilliant acting on the big screen, and my heart gets all the more excited when those stories are being told about and by beautiful black people. Such is the case with this movie.

Who Were the Hidden Figures?

Hidden Figures is inspired by the real life stories of three African American women—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—who literally changed the face of NASA, the United States of America, and indeed history.

hidden-figures-poster

Throughout the movie, the all-star cast led by Academy award winner, Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan); an Academy nominee, Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson); and Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson) approach the challenges of being black and woman with a great deal of intellect, grace, and even some wit. It addition to telling this great American story and introducing many of us to these American sheroes, the movie provides a history lesson and a glimpse into some of the systemic injustices that remain hidden and why.

Let me begin here: When watching a movie that is based on or inspired by a true story, it is sometimes difficult to determine how much of the movie is historically accurate and how much filler is required to effectively bring the story to light.

We know from reading the Bible that a narrative can begin in one place only to have the story pick up in another place. When that happens, we long to know the in-between (like what transitioned in Jesus’ human life between the time that his parent’s lost him and he was “about his father’s business” in the temple, until the time that he began his earthly ministry in his early thirties). Sometime we are just left wondering. At other times, we try to fill in the gaps as best we can with the information that we do know.

In this instance, there is much to know about these women themselves (especially since Katherine Johnson is still alive), the federal government system in which they were required to operate, and the time period that they grew up in to fill in the unknown gaps with some integrity.

The time period was the early 1960s in America. The focus of NASA and the federal government was the Space Race (how Americans could get into space first). The Russians beat us by successfully having the first human journey into outer space in the spring of 1961. This defeat—what American government leaders saw as humiliation on the world’s stage—along with our concern for national security and distain for Russia was the catalyst that changed the personal and professional lives of these courageous women.

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Exposing the Darkness

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Justice Awakening Book CoverThis month, I’m reading and preparing for several anti-human trafficking efforts to include a community fundraiser, education and awareness event, the International Justice Mission Advocacy Summit, and IJM NC State leader training. I would appreciate your joining me in prayer for these efforts. As part of my preparation, I am reading and reviewing several resources. I’m primarily focusing on the book, Justice Awakening, by Eddie Byun. This book calls every Christian and church to become awakened to justice.

Today’s post focuses on exposing the darkness of injustice. Throughout the Bible, we see metaphors and descriptions about light and its contrast to darkness.

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Injustices Against Women

Eugene Cho, Founder of One Day’s Wages and Lead Pastor of Quest Church, made a statement at this year’s Justice Conference that struck me in my chest. He declared, “There is no older injustice in this world, than the injustices against women.” All of a sudden my thoughts raged concerning the countless indiscretions against faithful wives who “stuck it out” because they did not have other means in which to care for themselves or their children; all of the women and girls who are continuously raped and sold for profit; the girls who are aborted, starved, or sold into slavery just because they are girls and therefore are less valuable to the family; the times when women were not allowed to vote; and the subtle and not so subtle ways in which women are sometimes treated as second class citizens in the church.

I thought about the women who have risen to positions of high offices and power, and contemplated what effects those women leaders are having on the generations and the young girls who are watching with the anticipation of following them. I thought about that brave, brave girl, Malala, who stood up to the Taliban for her education and was shot in the head. I thought about Sheryl Sandberg’s challenge to Lean In and her asking women the all important question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

This week’s politics and failure of the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was meant to close the pay gap between men and women, is an indicator that we still do not understand the solutions to the problems in our world need all able-bodied adults at the table, who are valued for their presence and contributions, and rewarded fairly for their labor. It is also a reminder that our cries against injustices cannot begin and end in Washington DC. Even when we have good laws on the books, the leaders and citizens who enforce those laws is what makes a just society.

How do we stop injustices against women? 1. Find out what the Bible has to say about God’s view of His daughters. 2. Mentor more women for leadership and encourage those women to raise their voices on behalf of the common good of humanity.

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