One of the best movies that I saw in 2016 was Hidden Figures.
It focuses around the true story of three African-American women who changed the world. Their names were Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson. In the early years of the space program, these three women played a pivotal role in launching John Glenn into space. Without these three women, not only would John Glenn not have made it to space in the first place, he would have burned up upon reentry. These women helped to further the United States in the space race and kept John Glenn safe.
This movie is important because not only does it show three strong women, it shows three strong women of color. I would use this movie to teach intersectionality. Intersectionality is the idea that one problem can’t be addressed without talking about the others. For example, you can’t talk about women’s rights without talking about the struggle that specifically women of color go through or non-heterosexual women go through. All identities are interconnected, and that’s what I would want my students to understand. The concept of intersectionality is so integral to feminism that you can’t be a feminist without fully understanding and supporting intersectionality.
To teach this, I would have them read bell hooks Feminism is for Everybody. I would have them read this as opposed to Kimberle Crenshaw because bell hooks is more accessible and easier to digest than Crenshaw is. bell hooks still discusses the idea of intersectionality, even if she doesn’t explicitly say the term. I would still define intersectionality the way Crenshaw does, but I wouldn’t have them read her.
After reading the theory, we would watch Hidden Figures and apply the theory of intersectionality to the movie. After watching the movie, they would research another important woman of color and write a paper on whomever they chose.
This assignment is important to me because all too often students only focus on famous white men to do research on. I want them to realize that even though we don’t always see them in the headlines, women of color do amazing things and helped to shape our nation to what it is today just like the amazing women in Hidden Figures.