Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hidden Figures

This past Saturday, I attended a screening of the film Hidden Figures at my favorite local theater. It was a matinee, and the place was packed. This makes sense if only because of the inspirational story of three African American women who did the math to help NASA get our astronauts into outer space while opening doors for women and minorities in a time when segregation was the law of the land. This was back when "computers" were people with pencils and slide rules working on problems that would eventually be fed into room-sized machines that could count higher, faster, and longer than a room full of mathematicians of any color or gender. That was before computers could fit on our laps, or in our hands. The crowd laughed, cheered, and applauded each barrier broken. It was a feel-good movie, especially for the group we were with that afternoon.
A great many of them were wearing pink knit hats. Some of them were still had the signs they carried at the march they had attended earlier in the day. A large portion of the audience was made up of members of the Women's March held in Oakland. This was the right crowd for this movie. Not all of the estimated sixty thousand individuals who made it to the march found their way to the theater. They wouldn't  have fit inside. They would have needed to head down the road to the Oakland Coliseum to handle that mass of humanity. An impressive number, but nothing compared to the group who showed up in Washington D.C. Experts suggested that the crowd there was three times the size of the one that watched the swearing in of our forty-fifth president. The forty-fifth president's handlers were quick to point out how "alternative facts" may have caused some confusion as to exactly how many women, men, and children actually attended any or all of these events held not just here in the United States, but  across the globe. Millions went out into their Saturday afternoons to make their voices heard. How did president forty-five respond?
"Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly." Well, at least he wasn't  generating alternative facts about the number of protesters. As for his question about voting, I did not interview all the participants of Oakland's march, but the dozen that I knew personally did vote, and the reason they showed up at the gathering was to be with like-minded individuals who felt like their voting was not represented by the results of the election. Two point nine million more Americans voted for Twit's opponent. This is a fact that leaves little alternative for those who feel that to be heard, they must take  to the streets. Lots of them. Millions of them. Or, alternatively, just a few thousand. It's going to be a long four years. Or ten. 

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