I keep hearing my friends of color say it over and over again. LISTEN. In an age of knee jerk reactions and remarks, listening is an acquired skill. Hearing is a priceless one.
The voices we can learn the most from are often the ones that have been intentionally muted. Ones we may have to make an effort to seek out. Ones that come from those who don’t look or sound exactly like us. Every once in a while though, an opportunity arises for these muted voices to reach and affect the masses.
This year, Hidden Figures was one of these opportunities. Hidden Figures very literally brought out of hiding the voices, immense contributions and actions of bold and intelligent African American women. Mathematicians and engineers of talent most of us can only dream about. Women of color who dared to wish and work like heck for the same opportunities handed to their white male and female peers at NASA. A place where exceptional minds were welcome and yet still sorted by gender and color.
Hidden Figures, the movie serves the purpose of excavating and celebrating these stories, showing the conditions under which they took place and bringing them to the masses. However there is more to the story.
Listening to Hidden Figures on Audible you’ll hear the story written by Margot Lee Shetterly, a black woman and told through the voice of Robin Miles, a black woman. Watching Hidden Figures you’llsee the story as adapted by Theodore Melfi, a white man.
I am usually a book before movie kind of girl, but sometimes life gets in the way. You know? Running a small business and raising two children, time is precious. But what if you could take the time that daily life steals from us and get some of it back to listen and learn? Time where cooking or folding laundry allows you to open your mind and explore. It’s nearly impossible to read a book while doing these things. Trust me, I’ve tried. But with audiobooks you can listen and hear voices you otherwise might not encounter or hear them in a way you haven’t heard them before.
If you listen to Hidden Figures on Audible, like I have been doing, you’ll hear that Katherine Johnson wasn’t saved from the blatant racism of her restroom woes by her white male superior. Instead she took it upon herself to use the unmarked restrooms at Langley and refused to stop doing so when it was later pointed out by her white counterparts.
I can’t recall a time in my life where America has felt more divided. When the need to listen to one another was greater. One thing Hidden Figures should remind us of is that while we have made progress, we have so much farther to go before anyone can sit back and relax. We have a lot of work to do to defend and honor people of color and especially women of color, who are often the most disproportionately marginalized of all. We can start by listening. These are treacherous times we are in. Times where listening, hearing, thinking and then acting matter so much.
Listening is a skill I’m still honing that comes to me from a lifetime of being neither here nor there and not fitting in perfectly anywhere. Listening has always been my way to find “my people” since the definition of my people isn’t as obvious as it may be for others. My people can’t be skin deep. There is no skin that represents my people.
I am the product of an interfaith marriage and multicultural upbringing. I don’t look like either of my parents. I am all too familiar with microaggressions. Watching my mother be mistaken for the nanny time and time again. Hearing others make Asian jokes or Jewish jokes, not realizing I am both of those and also many other things. Being told by people of my own “faith” that I don’t really belong because my mother didn’t convert while they sit in my home to celebrate a holiday.
I am not perfect. Far from it. I can vividly recall a couple of times over the years when I have said something or done something without thinking. Without realizing how it felt to someone else. And because I should know better it hurts that much more. I still carry that guilt months and years later, wishing I could take it back. The best thing would be to never let it have happened. The second best thing is to learn from it and never let it happen again.
For better or worse I am a minority enough to have insight into the pain and feeling of being cut down that my friends of color experience, except their experiences are exponentially worse. I am also white enough to reach a circle that truly needs exposure to the struggles women of color face every single day. Listening, watching and trusting my gut have always been my way of finding my people. And now, listening can be a way for me to continue to expand the voices that shape who I am. Voices which will likely shape how I raise my children.
There is an unmatched catalog of audiobooks and voices waiting for you on Audible. Voices that will make you laugh, voices that will make you cry. Voices that will force you to look deep inside and ask yourself what you stand for and where you’re going. Voices that will tell you it’s okay to be you.
If you’ve never tried audiobooks then step outside of your comfort zone a bit. Audible is so easy to use and downloading books takes almost no time at all. I had Hidden Figures at my fingertips in less than a minute. That’s a timeframe even we modern mamas can work with! Audible is giving you a 30 day free trial to explore their catalog and find a voice that speaks to you. Take advantage, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.