By Ashley Lodato
When the kids were little and prone to throwing hissy fits about small indignities, we used to tell them “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” (or, alternately, depending on our mood –“you git what you git and you don’t throw a fit”).
Now I’m second-guessing this advice to take the hand you’re dealt. It makes sense when a child is melting down because he got the blue plate and wanted the red one, but it’s not actually a very hopeful or productive approach to life. History is filled with examples of human life improving for many because one person threw a fit. Quite often, getting upset results in making things better.
I thought about this over the weekend while watching “Hidden Figures” at the Mirage Theater in Omak. (Because so many Winthrop people made the journey over the Loup to see the film in the past week, I feel like I can justify writing about it as a quasi-Methow event. Some of us even gathered in the lobby after the film to discuss it, making it sort of like a local focus group, but without the appetizers.)
The film, in case you haven’t heard, follows the previously untold story of three African-American women who were instrumental in the mathematics behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit in the 1960s. The story itself is both fascinating and moving, but perhaps most salient was how hard these women had to work — how tirelessly they had to push back against the institutions that were determined to treat them as lesser citizens. They were women, and they were black, and they were brilliant. They got upset and they got things accomplished, both for themselves and for all Americans.
There we all sat in a movie theater, many of us crying our eyes out at the uplifting moments but also at the wider relevance of the film given today’s climate of civil rights in jeopardy. The movie reminded us that when given a seat at the table and a chance to contribute, people are capable of the very things that make this country so great.
The time in matinee was fraught with significance for me. As we sat in the theater we were just a river’s width away from the Colville Reservation: a nearly 3-million-acre chunk of land that is just one of many reminders about who are the real immigrants in this country. Then I drove home over the mountain, back to the valley where less than 200 years ago the descendants of white Europeans came seeking a better life and a warm welcome in a special place.