Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hidden Figures

The Manila Bulletin has an article about the women behind the movie.

This year’s strongest Oscar contender for Best Picture, “Hidden Figures”, directed by Theodore Melfi, relates the little known story of three pioneering black women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, all math wizards at NASA, who had a formidable impact on history. Known as ‘colored computers’, they crossed racial and gender boundaries in the challenging fields of analytical geometry, engineering and rocket science. Defying the odds in the face of prejudice, they combined courage with intellectual rigor, pursuing excellence and helping America to ultimately win the Space Race.
Great role models, they also paved the way for future generations. Yet remarkably, until now, hardly anyone knew their names. “Hidden Figures” focuses on the lives of NASA’s African-American women as they struggle to solve brain-twisting problems while also breaking down barriers – but it was also essential to get the numbers that meant so much to them right. After all, just one degree off in their equations could have meant unthinkable tragedy for NASA.
“The idea of STEM is very important to this film,” says Williams. “I consider math to be a real art and it’s also a universal language. It doesn’t even matter what solar system you’re in, math applies.”
In the background is the struggle to integrate public schools. One of the ladies needed a high school course to be able to study engineering, and won this because in her petition to the judge, she reminded him that he also had to fight prejudice and poverty to attend college.Back then, the caste system of the south also discriminated against working class poor whites.

My medical school discriminated against blacks (quota), Jews (quota) and women (no women allowed) up to the 1960's. My Catholic faith was openly ridiculed by some of our teachers and some of my classmates.

some patients refused to be treated by blacks (or women, or Asians) back then

The city high schools were by then integrated in the north, but often the teachers let the kids slide with automatic pass without forcing them to do the work. (I ran into the same problem in the 1990's with my Hispanic sons, so I transfered them to Catholic and later a Christian school).

The Catholic school system in many American cities was not so much to teach religion as it was to give the poor children of immigrants a decent education. And not  just in the inner city: It says a lot that both Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton attended Catholic grade schools.

Those who are trying to split Americans in order to gain power by prommoting "guilt" forget that a lot of Americans faced similar problems in the good old days. Despite this, if you worked hard, you could overcome the obstacles, which was not true in in much of the world then, or even now.

The Democrts would get more sympathy and help by joining with "the deplorables" who often remember their own family's histories of discrimination and the hard work needed to break out of poverty. And a lot of Islamophobia would be stopped with more stories of ordinary Muslim families, reminding them how Catholics and Jews faced similar problems.

and I am happy to see a film where "STEM" is a goal for women, instead of what the feminists are trying to do, add "art" to "STEM" so women who don't want to be bothered to study hard can pretend they too are able to do intellectually rigourous work by studying feminist theory or basket weaving.

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