Still Hidden, But More Visible Figures

It is not easy to live in America if the color of your skin is not white. It is not easy to receive the recognition, respect, and reward you deserve for the excellence of your work if you are not a man. Life is twice as difficult if you are a black woman working among white men in America.

Last night I watched “Hidden Figures,” a well-crafted and sensitive film that generated deep reflections in me about gender and racial inequality in this country of ours. Directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, the film is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. It tells the story, among others, of Katherine Johnson, the African American mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for NASA’s Mercury and Apollo programs while facing the difficulties of being a black woman in the US, and in a workplace populated and dominated by white men.

It made me realize, once again, that even though I can empathize, I really can’t fathom what it is to be black, or a woman, or a black woman in America. It made me think of the tremendous advantage I have simply for the mere fact that I was born a man, and white. It made me realize, once again, that the majority of the white population of this country go through life in a state of oblivion, completely unaware of this immense and gratuitous  privilege.

But it is evident that we are making progress, in spite of all the push-backs. We are realizing that prejudice, bigotry, discrimination and segregation are expressions of ignorance and fear. It is becoming clearer that we, all of us, are crew members of the same spaceship that is traveling through cosmos, and that we need to work together if we want Planet Earth, our space vehicle, to last.

There is a scene in the movie when Al Harrison, the head of the NASA program played by actor Kevin Costner, dramatically puts an end to segregated bathrooms in that NASA facility. The scene ends with him saying, “Here at NASA, we all pee the same color.” I guess that all of us — blacks and whites, women and men — are coming to terms with this.

I highly recommend the film. Watch it. May it touch you and inspire you to continue the work of growing in understanding, educating, dispelling prejudice, and bringing more justice and peace to our world. Let us remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Let us give of ourselves to create a gentler world for all because, in the final analysis, we are all in this together.

~ Piero


 

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I am an author and educator who really loves to write and teach. I like to think of myself as an explorer who inspires people to live lives that matter. I am the Program Director of One Planet United, the founder of the Silent Peace Walk movement, and the creator and facilitator of the Diversity and Personal Activism workshops, and of the Peaceful Ways retreats. I believe that the inner work that leads to a personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. I teach mindfulness meditation that is conducive to a gentler way of living, and courses that expand sensitivity and improve communications and human relations. I consider myself one of those who is collaborating to bring more justice and peace to our world. I hold the firm belief that Heaven is here, if we want it to be. ~ Piero Falci

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