What is surprising is that there were a lot of black women mathematicians and scientists working at NASA and nobody knew about it until this movie. As I say in the OP I was amazed that I'd never heard anything about these women before.
A woman who lived in the same town with them and saw them in the stores and at church all her life took it for granted until she returned to the town with her husband years after moving away and he was astonished at the information when somebody brought it up. That's what prompted her to write a book about it.
And if you listen to all the interviews and panels about the movie on YouTube you'll hear everybody say how they'd never heard of this before and how important it is to know about it -- the people who made the movie including the cast, as well as audience members. A lot of the black women said that they didn't even know women could do math (at that level) and now they have a whole new idea of what's possible to them. The actress who played Katherine Johnson admitted to having to learn not to be afraid of numbers just to play the part -- she writes a lot of numbers in formulas on blackboards in the movie. .
Well, I can't speak for Faith, but I'm also surprised that, seeing how important computers (the humans ones) were, that either women or African-Americans were allowed such a role at that time. I don't think that their stories were all that well known to most people. Certainly not to me. It's a history that hasn't been told on a wide scale.
Yes, that's part of the surprise too, that they were ALLOWED such a role. There was some idea though that women are more meticulous about details and being exact -- make of it what you will. And all the women had degrees and impressive academic histories. And my impression is that NOBODY knew about this until the author of the book realized it's an important piece of history that had to be told.
But isn't that a true indictment of the US in general? How is it possible so many of our population were ignorant of such things?
Yes, that has to be explained. How could we not have heard of this? How? You might wonder why NASA kept it a secret for instance. But people kept saying how progressive NASA was at the time so it could be just that they took it for granted the way the author of the book did, just didn't realize what a big story they were sitting on. It really doesn't seem to be a racist thing at all when you hear people talk about it.
It was the South after all (not fair to pin it on all "Americans."). And yes NASA had figured out that it was more important to have Katherine Johnson's mind at their disposal than to further racist attitudes. Those attitudes do change by the way, during the course of the movie. The boss desegregates the women's rooms for instance.
It wasn't part of the movie but it turns out that one of the three women hacked into NASA's computers at some point and found out that black women and I think women in general were being seriously underpaid, and got their pay raised.
We tend to think of racism as a Southern problem and forget that in the US it was near universal. It's amazing how few people seem aware of our actual history, about incidents like the Zoot Suit Riots or the conditions in the migrant camps or just what "separate but equal" education meant or that women held very high postings in all industries yet were under paid and subject to different standards.
We need to do better in educating the next few generations.
I've lived in the western US all my life and there has never been anything even remotely like the racism you see in the South in a film like this. Not that individuals weren't racist, but no, America at large was NOT racist, certainly not in the sixties.
Oh for pete's sake. There has never been any sense of socially sanctioned discrimination like what is shown in the movie. No separate bathrooms and no feeling there should be, no separate coffee pots, no separate sitting areas, no back of the bus, no separate fountains. The races all mingle together without the slightest sense of difference. THAT's the level of racism I'm talking about and it has never existed in the western US that I ever experienced. Inequity in wages OK but that's not on the social level I'm talking about. All you hypersensitive racism sniffers have to go out of your way to sniff it out.
Yet the reality is that all across the country our police were white, our judges were white, all the business owners were white the bosses were white and if you were not white you got stopped if you were in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time of day, you could not buy a house in the white neighborhood and your school was underfunded and understaffed.
The facts are shown in the race riots of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. It is shown in the police grievances. It is shown in the sentencing data. It is shown in the incarceration data. It is shown in the economic data.
It is shown in the fact that so many in the US are still willfully ignorant of the fact of racism in the US.
quote:Ramad Chatman handed himself in to police when he found out he was a suspect for an armed robbery at a convenience store in his hometown of Georgia in July 2014.
“He turned himself in because he knew he was not guilty,” his grandmother Janice Chatman told US news channel 11Alive.
The following February, a judge decided it was likely he did commit the robbery and as a result Chatman was re-sentenced for the original crime of stealing a TV and ordered to serve 10-years behind bars, back dated to the day of the crime.
It later emerged that ahead of the trial Chapman tried to enter an Alford plea on the charge of aggravated assault in exchange for the armed robbery charges being dropped.
An Alford plea means the defendant enters a guilty plea, but maintains his innocence. It is often used when a defendant feels like despite his innocence, he will lose at trial.
The judge refused to accept the deal, so the case was heard before a jury – who ruled he was innocent of the crime.
Presiding Judge John Niedrach, disagreed with their verdict however.
So despite the fact police never recovered the weapon, stolen money, or any other evidence connecting him to the robbery, he declined to release Mr Chatman, who remains in prison for violating the terms of his first probation order.
The races all mingle together without the slightest sense of difference.
I would occasionally go to the corner drug store ("Liggett", at the corner of York and Elm, as I recall). And I could stand there browsing magazines for 30 minutes. If someone black tried that, the store owner would be saying "Move along" to him. And it was similar at many other stores and locations.
Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity
Maybe it's different in the eastern US. But I don't mean to say there's NO racism, I was reacting to the pervasiveness of it in the film, it's just THERE in a way I've NEVER experienced it. Perhaps I'm not tuned in to various ways it does happen, but all I know is I've never experienced anything like what is in the film. The film makes it real in a way it was just a dead fact before. In my life anti-Semitism has often become more real than racism against blacks, and unpleasantly real for me personally.
And it's interesting to me how in the film the segregation IS just There. Even though there are some striking moments when it becomes the central focus, for the most part it's background and the characters don't even react to it most of the time. As I've learned more about the historical context of the movie it's become clear that's also the way it was for the real participants. Katherine is described as involved in her work, always focused on that and not having much to say about the segregation she had to endure.