Hidden Figures, the movie and memories it brought to mind




We loved "Hidden Figures". Besides a wonderful true story, it was a big reminder of the horror of segregation and how the press totally ignored these three African American women who actually made it possible for the US to go into space.

Watching it brought back memories of my feeble and totally unsuccessful attempt at pointing out how stupid segregation was back in the early 50s. Yes, I was a big ahead of everyone.

I grew up in Los Angeles CA and I never heard my folks talk bad about any race. No, I didn't grow up in an integrated neighborhood and the only neighbors of a different race were the Italians who lived across the street and had been there far longer than any of the rest of us.

When I first got married I moved to Maryland, and had my first exposure to racism. Believe me, it was a horrible shock. I won't go into all the things I heard and saw. However, I thought I could change things in a small way by doing the following:

I rode on the back of the bus.
I drank out of "colored" drinking fountains.
I sat in the balcony at the movies (it was where the "coloreds" were supposed to sit.
I tried to make friends, not successfully, with every black person I met.

Did it do any good? No. I quickly learned this is what the black people said about me.

"That's that crazy girl from California." Didn't stop me though. I was 18 and truly though I could make a change. I was a few years too early.

On a later visit back to the same area, by this time I had three kids, things hadn't improved much. I had to do some laundry so took my dirty clothes to the closest laundromat. I had never been in one before so asked for help from those around me. The women seemed reluctant to help me, but finally did. We chatted and I was asked where I was from. When I said California, glances were exchanged, and I was asked who I was visiting.

When I returned to my in-laws, I was asked where I'd done my laundry. When gave them the name of the business, I was told that wasn't proper, I 'd gone to the laundry for black people. 

My response, "My clothes got clean and everyone was nice to me." 

If you get the opportunity, be sure and see Hidden Figures.

Marilyn


Comments

Lorna Collins - said…
I adored it, too. I cried through the first part when I remembered the period. We grew up in Southern California. At the time, it truly was a melting pot. During my freshman year, friends marched in Selma. What a scary time!

I had forgotten until recelnty how I accepted a lower grade in my Folk Dance class in college because I dared to dance with a young black man. I was given an ultimatum: stop dancing with him or get a lower grade. I've never been good with labels and couldn't understand what my teacher's problem was.

When I was 23, we moved to Illinois where every ethnicity had its own neighborhood. Once again, I was shocked.

I have close friends of many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. However, I just don't label people. I never realize we'e different until someone else points it out.

The movie made me cry--a lot, and laugh--a lot. Best film I've seen in a very long time.

Those of us growing up in California back then sure had a different experience.
Jackie Houchin said…
Thank you for this - the promo for the movie and your life's experience. I too grew up in California - so eclectic - but I too didn't have many of other races through school. I've always tried to treat blacks the same as others - I mean, they ARE just like all others, like the rest of us. Equal honor, recognition, pay, respect for everyone. But, that said, I have to confess, that some of any race get the reputation (and live it out) of bringing crime, gangs, low standards of care for their homes, etc. to neighborhoods. These, I have to say, I am a bit prejudiced against. If it is just poverty, that is another thing, but trashing stuff, marking stuff with graffiti is not something I want to promote. God help me, I know, for I need more compassion.

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