Why Some Black Women are Still Not in Meghan’s Corner
I’ve been pondering on whether or not to acknowledge this but I am here to write what I haven’t seen written. There is a nuanced piece of Meghan Markle’s story that I have yet to see and I absolutely cannot keep reading articles without putting this opinion out there.
First of all, it seems as if people are either “for Meghan or against Meghan”, which is the determining factor in which I will give an article or opinion piece my time and energy. Overall, I will say that I am “for Meghan”, but I do believe and agree with most of the critiques (from Black women) about her. I am not here to cosign with racist basic beckies who are jealous that she infringed upon British high society. This article is not for you. So move along if you think that’s where i’m going with this. Since Black British culture is vastly different, I can’t speak for afro British women who identify with her- nor were happy to see her in the royal family. I’m referring to my fellow Black American sisters. Overall, I believe that Meghan deserves compassion and empathy as a mother, wife and woman of color. Period.
Let me start with the basis of my opinion:
Meghan Markle has benefitted from colorism and biracial privilege her entire life.
Why no one has blatantly said this is beyond me. What I HAVE heard people say is that they have a hard time understanding how Black women- particularly dark-skinned Black women identify with and see themselves in her. Meghan refuses to say that she’s Black. It’s well within her right as a biracial person to acknowledge both. But it’s always come off that she previously used her biracial identity to position herself as a citizen of the world and exotify herself and put distance between herself and the Black American struggle. I did roll my eyes reading about the playful way she would skate around telling people her racial identity. Just say your mom is Black and your dad is white and move on.
Let’s not pretend that it’s not extremely common for multi-ethnic Black Americans to identify with their non-African roots before they acknowledge that they’re Black. Or they’ll blatantly say “i’m not Black i’m [insert nationality such as Dominican]” But Meghan isn’t even multinational, nor does she have immigrant parents or has claimed indigenous roots. There is nothing inherently “exotic” about her except for the fact that she is not automatically identifiable as Black. She has also referred to her “curly hair” negatively in multiple interviews and won’t blatantly talk about her natural hair texture- which is well within her right. But it is something to note. People often use the argument “she talks about how her mom is Black”, right…but she doesn’t talk about her black experience although i’m sure she’s had it.
Notice she says “women of color” while many biracial people would just say “Black”. This footage is often used to give evidence of her acknowledging her Black identity but “women of color” is widely disregarded in scholarly and activists spaces and viewed as a term that is used to erase Black identity rather than acknowledging it. This- as well as the Oprah interview were opportunities for her to identify Blackness as a part of her identity but she did not, nor has she ever done so.
I believe in the critique that she is a social climber.
But I do not believe she deserved to be broken down to her core because of it. I do not believe she “got what she deserved”. Because she has not been treated as a Black woman for the majority of her life, she believed that the UK would embrace her with open arms if the beloved ginger son of the Princess of Wales did. She claims to have been naive about royal protocol, but I believe she was well aware of it. What she was naive about is how her blackness would be a factor in how she was treated. In fact there is quite a bit of video footage of her making public appearances that show people blatantly ignoring her but acknowledging Harry. Any Black woman who has been in an interracial marriage to a white man has experienced this, but Meghan believed that her titled position would grant her an additional level of respect.
I don’t believe that she intended to take Harry and leave the royal family
This opinion seems contradictory to the fact that she is a social climber. I believe that she wanted to live happily ever after and be a national treasure to a country that does not have the same historical stigma of Blackness that the US has. Being curtsied-to and making the iconic balcony appearances was probably her favorite part. Arriving to events and being announced as HRH, receiving flowers from adoring citizens- you honestly think she didn’t expect to do that for the rest of her life? This is where the contradiction lies. What she failed to realize is the institution she married into (not so much the country) was heavily dependent on upholding white supremacy. The “firm” as she called it is heavily dependent on eugenics and bloodline. Perhaps she thought she could “handle” it because she’s been able to navigate many otherwise hostile spaces through the guise of her ambiguous appearance.
People like to say “this was calculated” and “she planned this”. “Everything she says is rehearsed- she’s an actress.” Yes- she is an actress and has utilized those skills during the times she has had to make public appearances and/or speak. But what is the problem with that? Anyone in a high profile position does that to prevent saying something stupid. People forget that as a royal, she doesn’t have to appear accessible, genuine or “down to earth”. In fact, as a royal, she must have some level of loftiness. But people want her to be “in her place” because she’s a Black woman. It does bother me to see Black women play into this narrative. They want her to appear “grateful” that she has been granted access into the epitome of hypergamous situations. And I wholly disagree with that.
People like to say “she cut people off and threw them out like trash”. Well unfortunately, that’s an ugly part of leveling up and moving up in the world. You have to become less accessible to people or they will take advantage and exploit you. You also cannot be around people who will be jealous of you and act upon that. Most successful people have had to leave certain characters behind- it’s a necessary part of growth. But again, the people who are making this critique want her to “stay in her place” .
What Non-Ambiguous Black Women have against Biracial Women
Now more than ever, biracial women and girls are disproportionately used to represent Black women in the mainstream media. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Black women- particularly dark-skinned black women to see themselves in roles that aren’t reprises of age old stereotypes such as the Mammy and Sapphire. It is even increasingly less less likely to see dark-skinned Black women in positions where they are the love interest or seen as worthy of protection.
Dark-skinned Black femmes are constantly fighting to be seen as feminine- even in Black spaces. This is why Black women are not identifying with Kamala Harris in the same way they did with Michelle Obama (that an her record of working against Black families during her time as DA in California. Not to mention the very real statistics that dark skinned Black women receive harsher punishments in the judicial system- and that Black girls are 6 times more likely to be punished in the school system- resulting in missing school, suspension and expulsion. Dark-skinned woman do not have the privilege to playfully toy with people about their identity- the stigma of existing a Black woman’s body is there for all the world to see.
Meghan’s mother being the free spirit that she is- did not teach Meghan to carry the weight of Black women’s burdens on her shoulders. It’s why we have not seen her with any Black friends (and no i’m not counting the GOAT Serena) prior to fame. It’s why we have not seen her with a natural hairstyle such as braids- or any expressions whatsoever to her African heritage except at her wedding which seemed (to me) extremely performative and inauthentic. Some might argue that Meghan’s upbringing as a free spirit is what allowed her to social climb as she did not see her Blackness as a limitation. I’ll leave that to the reader. Unlike what we often see in the media, Meghan has not set out to occupy Black women’s spaces or center herself in Black women’s narratives. She has been emboldened enough to attempt to occupy white women’s spaces and that is where the line for her has been drawn. That is why when she said “I thought I would be protected”, she meant “like my white counterparts”.
I don’t believe Meghan was as shocked or even offended about the question of Archie’s complexion
Black people in America have many different skin tones, hair textures and eye colors due to colonialism but also indigenous heritage. My paternal grandmother was biracial and had 7 children. My father was the youngest- and the darkest child, with the darkest colored eyes. He recalled being treated differently because of it. However, it is not uncommon or even nefarious to conjecture about what an unborn Black child will look like- but especially if they have a non-Black parent.
I have no doubt that Meghan’s mother wondered this as well as she carried Meghan. And although I believe that Meghan has used her blackness to garner sympathy on this point, she still will not blatantly express that this is a Black woman’s experience. I am dumbfounded as to why this- of all the points that were made was considered the most shocking and damaging to the royal family.
Doesn’t anybody remember the “Heads Together” campaign or just me?
What I personally found most disturbing was Meghan describing her suicidal ideation and expressing that she needed help. She did not get it. I have a hard time understanding this, considering that William, Kate and Harry went out of their way to lead a campaign to “change the conversation” and de-stigmatize mental illness. This campaign was supposed to modernize and humanize the royal family who otherwise is not supposed to show any real signs of being humans with human problems. This was not a courtesy extended to Meghan while she was vulnerable and pregnant. To me, this is the most disturbing account of Meghan’s experience and in no way, shape or form did she deserve for her mental health to be neglected. No one is saying it, but perhaps this is a primary reason as to why she thought she would not only be protected but get the help she needed.
Despite my critiques, I feel it is important to reiterate that I am happy that Meghan and Harry fled the institution and did not prioritize maintaining the firm over the health and well-being of their family. I am very much pro-Meghan and I do believe that she deserves a happy life. Whether or not it’s low-key or she intended to be “low-key” and is actually not, has no bearing on whether or not she deserves peace and happiness for her family.