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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Learn from 'Hidden Figures'

Gwen Smith

I saw “Hidden Figures” during Winter Break and it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. Despite the astonishment and shame I felt for not knowing the names of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, I felt an overwhelming sense of determination and inspiration.

These women were brilliant and despite their intelligence and ability to contribute to NASA, they were not given the dignity and respect they deserved.

What inspired me the most is how, despite the situation they were in, they did not live in fear and they did not belittle themselves in the face of discrimination. They thrived in the midst of their circumstances.

That is what I am choosing to do for the next four years and beyond.

What I came to realize is that there was no magic serum that was injected into the millions of people that voted for Trump on Nov. 8. Those people — people that condone the mocking of handicapped individuals, reject the idea that women can and should have control over their bodies and don’t believe that “all lives matter” — have had more than 18 years to develop those thoughts and beliefs. This election, they just happened to have a candidate that aired their innermost thoughts.

But hey, at least it’s easier to point them out, right?

I learned how easy it would be the day of the election. I was walking to class from Lenoir Dining Hall and I watched a fellow student leap — I am not exaggerating, he literally leapt with joy — onto a stone wall to rip an “I’m with Her” sign off of a tree and casually discard it onto the ground behind him. There was no shame.

So for those that are cautious, disappointed or concerned, I urge you to not let the next president of the United States lead you to act out of character.

Whether you voted conservative or liberal, your actions, your words, your impact on those around you is your responsibility and yours alone. I’ve heard stories upon stories of people being harassed and threatened because we are on the verge of living in “Trump’s America.”

I will be resilient. I will not cower in the face of this particular adversity. I will continue to be bold and outspoken, and most importantly I will continue to be civil and kind regardless of my opinion. Regardless of whether those around me are necessarily deserving of my kindness.

However, I’m saved, so it comes with the territory.

I thought about and dreaded this inauguration so much sometimes it hurts. I’ve tried not to think about it.

We’ve been here before.

I know for a fact my grandparents have been here before.

I know my parents have been here before.

I’ve read about it.

I’ve seen pictures of it.

Now I’m living in it.

And like before we will survive, we will prosper and we will thrive.

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