Hidden Figures and why I can’t stop reading the news

Had a moment of reminiscing this morning, remembering when I was a journalism major at a small private university.

I’d chosen journalism because it was connected to writing but wasn’t the English degree that everyone told me was useless professionally (a decade later, as I watch newspapers and magazines fold, I can almost laugh).

I certainly didn’t choose journalism because of any particular affinity for the news. I thought the news was boring, and I didn’t understand the fascination it held for some of my peers. Yes, I knew I was supposed to care about world headlines, but I just…yawn.

After all, I was at a Christian college that was pretty white. The news didn’t affect me. I was busy trying to figure out how to cram the bits of me that didn’t fit into the box of religion. Fuck the world’s problems, you know?

Like I’ve said before, that’s been a few years now. And now I can’t take my eyes off the world’s problems. I vacuum up world news from a variety of sources and try to piece together a patchwork quilt of truth seen from a lot of different eyes.

I don’t think they’re unrelated, this thirst for what’s going on in the world and telling religion, hey, I tried, but we’re not good together.


This next bit does connect eventually, I promise.

I watched Hidden Figures last weekend. It was inspiring, beautifully shot, an important story to tell.

My main takeaway was how so many people throughout the film preferred to endanger their own progression — and even the lives of their own people (in this case, the astronauts) — if that progression might include people they weren’t used to sharing with.

Engineers, white women, men in power, men in government, all of them intelligent human beings…so many of them demonstrated that they would rather cling to phrases like “you can’t” and “there’s no precedent” and “this is just how it is” than words like, “yes, we need you to be involved in order to make our goal happen. Please join and thank you for wanting to.”

The amazing thing to me was the idea that the people in power were not going to achieve their goal if they continued to hinder the success of those who weren’t. It simply wasn’t going to happen, and they wanted it so desperately to happen. They wanted the US to be a competitor in space so badly, they could taste it! But they were willing to jeopardize that if it meant they could still have their own bathrooms and their own coffeepots and their own schools.

High goals are unforgiving bitches. They don’t care about tradition or that you wish you could help, you really do, but this is just how things are.

If you want to reach some lofty new place in science, in society, in opportunity, you have to let everyone in on it.

You’ll never reach your impossible dream if you try to keep others from coming with you.