This Friday, over 300 Lynwood Unified School District high school students will be treated to a private screening of Hidden Figures. The critically acclaimed film sheds light on the little-known contributions of Black women to the United States’ space program. The idea of hidden figures is especially powerful now.
It serves as the perfect segue for the continuance of conversations that have been lifted higher in light of Trump’s new administration and subsequent policies.
Our youth should be able to see people who look like them doing great things. It’s an issue of equity. Seeing their culture and heritage represented in their history books transforms pages of books into mirrors by which our students can see their reflections and potential. In hopes of broadening their horizons, we have to expose our kids to the stories of great men and women of color that are most often not found in history books.
Often, our students hear of the contributions of people of color as a concession – in most cases, only the stories and contributions of certain men of color are celebrated. Women are often left out of the conversation entirely. If our task is to shatter glass ceilings for students of color and women alike, the contributions of women must especially both be celebrated and welcomed.
Women have always been the standard bearers of the moral compass of our nation. However, many of their contributions are diminished by men who have been reluctant to yield power to their female counterparts. As such, their rights have often been the subject of debate and their participation in the course of history and the direction our country has often been taken for granted. During this last election cycle, women’s rights were a footnote. In fact, women’s rights were less than a matter for discussion and more of a shallow campaign talking point based on hypocrisy and lacking critical thinking, thoughtfulness, fact and the opinions of women. Women must lead the conversation around women’s rights.
A day after the world witnessed the, relatively, peaceful transfer of power from one president to his successor, millions of women took to the streets to voice their opposition to the new government. In cities all over the world, women and their allies came out in massive numbers – numbers that made the Trump’s administration challenge the media’s coverage of the very lean crowds at Trump’s inauguration. But we cannot let this narcissistic themed administration deter the focus on Women’s Rights nor hog the narrative.
We know that power concedes nothing without demand and women along with their male counterparts and allies made their demands heard loud and clear advocating for a myriad of causes and vital issues ranging from access to women’s health clinics to early education. As such we saw the huge intersectionality of issues which begs the question of the need to make women’s rights be a focal point of policy.
I hope that the young women and men attending the screening of ‘Hidden Figures’ are inspired by the great contributions of and that these marches are the start of a movement of increased engagement. One thing is sure, without women, our nation’s power and potential are no more than a glass that is half-full. So as men, we should get “in formation” with our sisters and support their causes as they have had to support ours whether they were called upon or not because the future is colored, diverse and female.
Gary Hardie wrote this for One Public Education.