I recently saw the trailer for “Suffragette” and was moved. I felt the pain and anger of the oppressed British women. I wanted to punch that pervy dude’s face for sexually harassing Carey Mulligan. I cheered when they gathered in huge numbers. It felt slightly cathartic when they threw rocks at windows. I got chills when they held their heads up high even though they got beaten up by the police.
My guess is we will celebrate this film, and it will bring feelings of gratitude that these brave women before us gave their lives to ensure gender equality in voting rights (at least among the white majority at the time). I celebrate that as well, as I live in the legacy of courageous Americans before me.
But this begs questions in the current movement of #BlackLivesMatter. Why is it that many of us cannot support that same spirit of the oppressed demanding justice, when our country is so deeply rooted in systemic racial injustices? Why do we critique those who protest when like those British women, their polite conversations and suggestions did nothing for them? Why do we create an entirely new separate category for #BlackLivesMatter and judge interruption, and yet see the actions of these women as courageous?
I look forward to seeing “Suffragette” and having my ovaries feel a little stronger (and come on, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Meryl Streep y’all). And at the same time, I choose to let that history apply to understanding my hurting black brothers and sisters today and stand with them.