I had been putting off going to see Hidden Figures for some time now. I know this is because of the emotions I knew it would evoke. Particularly as I prepare myself to face the first year memorial of my father’s passing.
Black Girl Magic | The Tartan
This father of mine whose career achievements (PhD in Epidemiology after medical school), fluency in seven languages, generosity in spirit, and love for my mother and siblings, masked a deep pain in his eyes which regretfully I was never fully able to decipher in his life time.
He was beautiful in the entirety of his blackness.
After his passing my mind has been piecing together stories, albeit in patches, of what it was like for him to have become the man he was.
When I first received news of the fully-funded PhD studentship in Infection and Immunity I had been given in 2013, my father prayed a prayer of love over me:
"I don’t ever want you to finish your PhD as I finished mine: broken."
He told me that his entire study period lasted 14 years. And his legacy attests to the fact that it was worth it.
Currently I am in the last year of my PhD. Thankfully I have passed the threshold where those around me can comfortably stop worrying that I may quit. So much has happened in the past three and a half years. So much.
"Daddy dearest, I have been broken. More than once."
But even if you had stayed, you wouldn’t have been able to stop it from happening. And while I cannot pretend that I don’t have regrets, I appreciate the well-rounded researcher I am today.
And even though I am piecing myself back together with selotape still showing, these are the scars of life that we all have. We have all dealt with pain.
But in spite of all this, I have always been privileged. My privilege has meant that I have always had the option of education. I have always had the freedom to voice my opinions. Only timidness has stopped me in the past. I have always known that appropriate authorities would come to my rescue in academic institutions, should anything untoward occur. The toilets have been a three minute walk from me at most.
So as I sat in the theatre a few hours ago and watched Hidden figures, I felt humbled.
What calibre of strength did it take for these black women, without privilege, to refuse to remain broken by others?
How and where did the resilience come from to thrive?
To still go to church and sing with all their hearts?
Because let me tell you that black people in church all over the world, when we get into praise and worship mode, you can feel the spirit moving!
How did they keep going?
Black resilience is something I’ve witnessed in my father, and in so many others I have known, who never told their stories. But I heard them. I heard the stories through their eyes.
With everything in my heart I say this: Hidden Figures made me proud, and it reminded me why our voices have to forever be loud.
There is still work to be done.
All of this just makes me want to black harder whilst thriving. I want everything I do to be seeped in obsidian.— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) June 28, 2016