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By ChiTeen Lit Fest

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

By Ciera Barnett

Hey Guys!

I know I’m extremely late with publishing this review, but I just wanted to give everyone a chance to see the film before I give my thoughts.

I went to see Hidden Figures on one of its limited edition opening days while I was in Atlanta. Now I am normally not the person to be pressed to see a film in the theater, especially not as soon as it comes out, but the previews had me feeling like it was a must see–I was right.

This movie did so many things and came at the perfect time. It’s definitely become a black movie canon staple.

First, let’s discuss casting. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. When I first got word, I was a bit surprised. I knew Octavia Spencer was a great actress, so I had no doubts about her being able to fulfill the role. However, I did have doubts about Janelle and Taraji playing the role.

I know Janelle as a singer, not as an actress, and because this was going to be such a significant movie, I was worried about letting someone who had never done a major film before this on, but she delivered.

And then Taraji– of course she’s a great actress with a lot of experience. I am in no way trying to undermine her skills, but my skepticism for her playing this role stemmed from the fact that most of her roles are of a sassy and play-no-games women. Also, Taraji had never really played a historical role, she was always able to grow into and create the character that was written, rather than become and embody the live of a real person. But she surprised me.

The way the movie was written characterized all three women perfectly. The movie came out around the same time that the woman who Taraji played, Katherine Johnson, was being honored for her work, so I was afraid that the movie would revolve around her, but to my pleasant surprise, it didn’t. All three women were leading ladies and had their own story line.

Janelle’s character, Mary Jackson, struggled against legal and social adversity to earn the proper credentials to become an engineer. One of the lines that stuck out the most to me was “It’s like every time we get close to achieving something, they move the finish line.” Regardless of what it took – taking night classes, integrating a school, going to court – she achieved her goal of becoming a NASA engineer. One important aspect that really stuck out to me was the fact that her girlfriends supported her the entire time, which is something many women need to get back to today.

Octavia Spencer’s character, Dorothy Vaughn, was the epitome of My Sister’s Keeper. Once realizing that she was fulfilling the role of a supervisor, but not getting the appropriate pay, she wanted to fight that. But upon finding out that not only her job, but the jobs of all the women in her department were going to be removed within a month, she put her personal goals aside and went as far as stealing books to make sure that her team was prepared to work with the new technology. Little did the higher-ups at NASA know, Vaughn’s team would be the group that made the new technology work smoothly. She risked her own job to look out for the women she was in charge of, if that’s not sisterhood, I don’t know what is.

And then we have Taraji. The actress I have come to know and love as Cookie Lyon and all her other sassy roles. I honestly feel that her playing this role will start a chain reaction of Taraji getting all sorts of roles because she has proved herself able to play characters outside of her traditional casting. I feel like more black actresses need an opportunity, similar to what Taraji had with Hidden Figures, to show their versatility. While I love seeing Taraji go off on everyone, and Gabrielle Union does a great job at playing the single looking for love, it’s getting old quickly. Taraji, whose known to be outspoken, became a different person when playing Katherine Johnson, a timid woman from the 1960s. This role showed Taraji’s true skill, that Howard training served her well.

Overall, this was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and I’d certainly watch it again. A perfect balance between social justice and fun. The casting was perfect and so was the script. The movie answered every question you could have and was detailed enough for a real space enthusiast to be entertained, but simple enough for the general public to enjoy and understand. This movie really got me thinking, even down the title, Hidden Figures couldn’t have been better.

I know I’ve said a lot, but this movie has so much substance that you have to watch it still to understand everything. Each little element was perfect.

By ChiTeen Lit Fest

The Work of The Bird

By Moises A. Perez

The bird works day and night,
it never stops without a fight,
it saves its life every time.

The helpless lives of a crime,
its wings clipped, but it still can fly,
Even if the winter’s dry.

It screams a battle cry, and yells “goodbye”.
To the ones it left behind,
it moves on to a friendly nest,
But knows it needs to leave for the best.

It wants to stay today,
but leaves, for it’s a monsters prey.

As for me, I will fly, fly high to the sky, I know I won’t touch the ground,
for like the bird I shall never be earthbound.

and if I do, that will be okay, for it is not the summer day,
and when the day comes, when I die, I know those who will cry,
but they will stay strong, and learn how to fly,
Like the bird in the sky, they too will say “goodbye”. To my soul that never leaves a friend behind.

For it defies man kind,
and destroys the Black Line,
for it becomes my pride,
designed by filth and from the power of the Lord,
never to be held by the cord.

For this work is the work of the bird,
let this voice be heard, for it is my soul,
calling for the broken, so they don’t burn from the coal,
that will come from the bowl.

By ChiTeen Lit Fest

Black Accountability

By Tameera Harris

The beautiful color of my skin
the poetic voice that comes from within
I credit to my ethnicity
being a black girl in Chi-city
isn’t so pretty
I have the ability to alter any public space
all thanks to the color inherited from my race
here, i have thousands of ebony brothers and sisters
so tell me why the hell do I feel out of place?
My mind is gold
my voice is sound
but that’s all disregarded
because my skin is brown
My black friends
we’re in this together
so why are you focused on bringing me down?
why are you trying to put me in the ground?
the white man we say, is all of our problems.
The truth is we just too lazy to solve em’
the truth is that we is creating more problems
by rarely debating on how we can solve em’

why should we solve them?

we complain about the feds
grittier than sand
R.I.P to my soul sister Sandra Bland
killing our brothers
woman being found dead, in cells
where are we heading jail or hell?
reality is we killing us too
homicides up to date?
93% of blacks were killed by blacks
remember that before you attack
so before you start bashing and jeering at cops
before you start screaming F the opps
remember you’re also the opposition
you have some nerve to talk in your position
GD, BD, killing each other, freely
I’m stuck in this world, free me
a tombs all that i see when i see me

How can we fix this?
i don’t want our children growing up in this world
blacks killing blacks
boys and girls

I’m telling you to stop

Remember what our ancestors did for us Rosa Parks, the back of the bus
Harriet Tubman risked her life for us
MLK had dreamed for the day
where we see ourselves as equal
and then act that way

stop killing each other
acting like fools
don’t blame the white man
cuz we killing us too.

By ChiTeen Lit Fest

Why Do I Write?


by Briana Washington

Why do I write? Writing itself was something I was never very passionate about. It started in seventh grade, when all the students in my school were required to write something and submit it to Young Authors. Most of us decided to write about personal issues, things going on in our lives, the stresses we faced in everyday school. I kept that habit, writing to vent out stress. I kept notebooks and tons of google documents of writing.

I wrote about stress, about tests, about school, about how my family annoyed me during the holidays, about the other students in my school that annoyed me. It kept me sane. I even started a literary magazine at my school. We published our own peer’s works. Their thoughts, their feelings, their opinions, all printed out for others to read. It was a wonderful feeling, understanding them (even just a little), and helping them feel like they had a voice in the school. Everyone wanted their own copy: teachers, students, staff, the endless amount of family members that demanded their own copies (I ended up taking home about ten for my family). It was really encouraging.

Then, while zoning out in my Journalism class, I spotted a flyer in our school, something about a teen literary festival in Chicago. We were ecstatic! Reading poetry, joining workshops, talking to authors about the publishing process, we wanted it all. I sent out emails asking about the event almost six months earlier than the actual time for it. I couldn’t wait to meet other writers just as passionate, and talk to the them about their feelings and emotions conveyed on paper.

I also can’t wait to meet teens just like me! Those who are the poets, the writers, the readers, the creative, the comic book fanatic. Everyone deserves and can find a cozy little spot at the festival! Please be sure to RSVP, the kick­off party is Friday, April 15 at 6 p.m. at the Harold Washington Library Center. (9th floor winter garden). And also be sure to make the actual festival Saturday, April 16 at 11 a.m. at Columbia College Chicago (be sure to RSVP)!

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Movie Review: Hidden Figures
The Work of The Bird