Dear Media, Stop Using A Fake “Black Princess” to Shame Black Women For Clicks
Former actress and future wife of Prince Harry — Meghan Markle is now reaping the consequences of her newly-minted status — and for better or worse — her life officially doesn’t belong to her anymore.
As I waited in line at the local grocery store — I scanned the magazine rack and wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised to see Markle’s likeness sprawled all over the scene. I couldn’t help but wonder how she’s adjusting to the blinding spotlight that has spanned across the globe with lightening speed.
I’m also curious about whether or not she’s cool with the idea of being heralded as the best thing to happen to Black women since God knows when.
Regardless of how Markle identifies with a community that supposedly can’t get enough of her fairytale existence — I can vouch for myself and others who feel the way I do — when I firmly denounce the notion of regarding Markle as the beacon of hope for Black women “who rarely ever catch a break”— but suddenly feel validated by the impending royal wedding showcasing a biracial bride.
I wrote about Markle’s recent engagement and my essay delved into the complexity of being a Black woman who grew up in an environment that acknowledged the superiority of anyone from a mixed race background. I also admitted the challenging adjustment of labeling Markle as simply “Black” when her “Whiteness” is just as potent.
From what I gather — Markle herself is still struggling to identify the best way to describe her disposition and this apparently stems from the experiences of the past that have ultimately complicated her view.
Regardless of how well she navigates the imposing and royally grueling atmosphere of the British monarchy — there is no doubt that her journey will be uniquely personal and not at all transferable to commoners who tend to casually romanticize an establishment that harbors levels of historical cruelty.
That being said — it’s almost intolerable to accommodate the trumpet of joy and adulation assigned to Markle in ways that are both unfair and woefully undeserved.
The day of the highly-anticipated announcement ushered in an avalanche of well-wishes from social media users who actually give a damn about such things. Yes, there were a ton of Black women on Twitter and everywhere else who felt the need to claim victory based on Markle being a woman of color who miraculously achieved the impossible — and even though their declarations aren’t relatable — I still understand and respect their inspiration.
We have the media and the whole fucking world to blame for the way Black women feel when it comes to biased representation. Cosmetic giants are still reluctant to hire Black women without a hint of foreign blood — for high-profile campaigns. Prominent fashion magazines both at home and abroad still aren’t buying into the power of “diversity” as their cover girls don’t reflect the gradual shift that is slowly taking over the entertainment industry.
Television has been a godsend for Black girls that look like me — who’ve been sidelined for decades in favor of “exotic types.” Now, we have the likes of Yvonne Orji, Rutina Wesley, Michaela Cole and a handful of others who are dominating the landscape to reflect the value of the darker-skinned template.
Music and Film still harbor unrelenting producers and executives who truly believe that only White women and the versions that match up to that prototype have the authority to sell millions of albums and provide impressive box office receipts.
That being said — the dilemma of the Black woman and how media outlets who never gave a fuck about whether or not we were being given our fair share of the limelight back when it wasn’t trendy to care — are suddenly overdosing in their need for clicks at our expense — is getting annoyingly out of hand.
Take for instance the clickbait trash that the digital pub for ABC News recently unleashed — that is drenched in the familiar language of shaming Black women with the ammunition of how desperate we are for recognition based on how seldom it actually happens.
Granted — the outlet did get a lot of assistance from well-meaning Black journalists who contributed their summations with the regulatory verbiage — which is a practice most major publications employ to justify the nonsense they publish, but it still doesn’t save them from being fairly judged and ridiculed.
How can you begin to stomach such hopeless and vile rhetoric — without feeling the shame that most Black women feel when being singled out from what is commonly viewed as the preferred default:
“But beyond the fanciful achievement, Markle’s moment also points to a dearth of positive examples when it comes to black women on the world’s stage. And many black women feel that the former actress, who identifies as biracial, fills in the gap.”
Then there’s also this smelly dump:
“We’ve not had someone to represent us in the media recently, and it’s just good to see something good happening to a woman, a black woman specifically, amidst all of the challenging news that we’ve been faced with this last few weeks.”
First off, I can almost guarantee that the world-at-large, including the British royal family and even Harry himself don’t regard Meghan Markle as the Black woman who is making history and propelling the currency of the women who don’t even look anything like her.
And in terms of Black women in media — it’s rather shameful and absurd that a Black woman can actually utter the words: “we’ve not had someone to represent us in the media recently” — and mean it.
If that’s the truth — then what the hell are these women doing with their precious time:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Bozoma Saint John, Luvvie Ajayi, Isha Sesay, Jamilah Lemieux, Jemele Hill, Robin Thede, Joy Reid and countless others who are using their smarts to blaze an over-crowded territory.
To insinuate that the cultural arrival of Markle somehow enhances the image of Black women simply because she’s on her to way to becoming the “First Black Princess” that will magically endorse the worthiness of epically rejected women of color — is profoundly insulting.
We don’t need a biracial royal member to give Black women permission to dream big or dare to fantasize about the possibility of being swept off our feet by the man or woman of our dreams. We also don’t require the unwarranted attention from pathetic pubs that are too lazy to reject the seductiveness of recycled content that echo everything from “Why Black Men Are Not Ready to Date Black Women” to “Why Are Black Women Less Desirable.”
Shaming Black women always seems to be the reliable default and the tragedy lies in the evidence of how of many us contribute to the task of systematically mocking our already fragile disposition.
Dear Media, if you truly care about advancing the noble agenda of Black women — pick a new strategy and stop allowing clicks to dictate your every move.
Let the un-shaming begin!