Meghan Markle Is Living a Fairytale, Armed With Her Accomplishments, So Why Are We Obsessed With Her Race?
Or maybe it’s just me…
I know why I am and it annoys the hell out of me — although I’m giving myself a break — based on my specific upbringing.
Meghan Markle is marrying her Prince! It’s official! The engagement has been announced and the lovely couple look so happy it’s gloriously sickening. I was already aware of the royal romance and even wrote about my excitement when it became clear that things were getting serious. The fact that he was dating an American actress who was not only slightly older — but also a woman of color — fascinated me.
Now, that Prince Harry has given the monarchy something to be thrilled about with the impending royal wedding slated for spring 2018 — there is epic joy resounding on both sides of the pond— particularly with Black women as they celebrate the pride of one our own being crowned a real life Princess.
When President Obama ascended the throne and made history as the First Black President of the United States — it was a moment that captured the second coming of the Messiah. I was elated to be an American citizen and felt very much connected to the most powerful man in the world in a way that had never happened before.
The First Family were Black and they were moving into the most privileged address in the nation. It felt supremely progressive and ordained. But the emphasis was always on the fact that Obama was a Black man who had managed to achieve the unthinkable. I never considered the fact that he was biracial. It seemed a lot easier and gratifying to classify him as simply Black — without the references to his Whiteness.
Markle is now in the spotlight — and she will remain there until — whenever.
Her entrance into Britain’s oldest and most esteemed establishment is quite notable for the sheer fact that not only is she biracial — but she’s also a divorcee. But when you consider that three of the Queen’s own children suffered failed marriages — it’s safe to say that Markle won’t have to bury her head in shame. To take it even further — back in the day — King Henry VIII departed the Catholic Church and hastily formed The Church of England just so he could marry his lover — Anne Boleyn.
So, yeah, the British monarch isn’t as squeaky clean or flawless as most would like to believe — and then there’s the issue of colonialism, which is a completely different territory.
I knew Markle was an actress (she just recently quit her role on USA’s legal drama Suits) but I just discovered her more admirable pursuits as a humanitarian who used her degree in international relations to secure a job at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina — during her senior year in college. Her activism is a passion she shares with her future hubby and those connectors can be traced to the Prince’s mother — the late Princess Diana who spent her life advocating for the voiceless all over the world.
So, with such a stellar resume why are we unable to resist being so obsessed with Markle’s racial identity?
For me — it began as soon as the royal engagement made headlines and the cheering on social media commenced with congratulatory tweets for the future Black Princess who will surely fill Buckingham Palace with babies that don’t resemble anything we could’ve imagined before today.
Suddenly I found myself devouring the declarations with a critical appetite as the eerie bumps of resentfulness crept in and transported me back to my boarding school days.
I attended an all-Girls school in the heart of the city in Lagos, Nigeria and I was young and impressionable enough for every experience to have a lasting effect on me. There were many things to be bothered about — particularly the way the students of mixed race inspired preferential treatment. There was a clear distinction between them and us and at no time were they classified as Black.
Most if not all of the biracial girls had White mothers of British descent and that fact made them special and it was demonstrated with great measure by the teachers, house mistresses and especially by the students. Everyone catered to their every whim, they pretty much won all the in-house beauty competitions — and there was an inherent acceptance of their superiority.
Quite simply put — the White part of their heritage played to their advantage and secured their top position in the hierarchy of physical attractiveness. Light-skinned Nigerian girls came a close second while girls like me with dark features usually came in last.
This mindset is still very prevalent in Nigeria and other parts of Africa as is evident in the skin bleaching epidemic that is still very much in effect.
As a result — of the exposure in my home country — it was stunning to relocate to the States and discover that anyone with parents that are White and Black can be described as Black without further explanation. I’d grown accustomed to acknowledging the “White” side of my biracial classmates — so it was quite the adjustment to make that switch.
I also realize that it’s ultimately up to the individual to decide how they would like to be recognized based on the personal summation of their identity.
Nevertheless, Markle’s great fortune is dope as fuck — but the selfish and shitty part of me can’t avoid looking at this through analytical lenses.
Obviously, Harry being the “Spare” works in his favor because he’s absolved of the towering responsibilities and requirements of his older brother Prince William who is second in line to the throne behind his father — Prince Charles. There’s no way in hell William would’ve been permitted to marry Markle because of his delicate position. Harry is able to avoid censorship — except I’m almost certain that if he had fallen in love with a Black woman who looked Black — there would’ve been some form of intervention.
I’m pretty sure that I reek of pathetic pettiness but it’s hard for me to consider this a win for Black girls when I’ve spent my life watching those that resemble me — regulated to the side lines in favor of our White counterparts and the rest who are as close to them as possible.
I’m absolutely ecstatic for Markle and wish nothing but the very best, but I won’t deny that if she were a dark-skinned woman — sporting the features that are mostly devalued on a global scale — I would be more inclined to assign the “Black Princess” title even though she will most likely not be a “Princess” in real life.
This isn’t a personal vendetta or my attempt to reduce the shine of the moment with my random rant on race or the pent up bitterness of being a dark-skinned woman who still has to contend with being underrepresented — across the board.
I’m a work in progress — and I write about stuff that I prefer to keep to myself, but can’t because of the spirit that betrays my trust and forces me to divulge on command.
As always — thanks for letting me to do exactly that.