Meghan Markle, like Vice President Kamala Harris, became a media sensation because she embodies a ” black” woman in a space previously unoccupied by anyone of African-descent. The issue? Markle, like Harris, wears blackness like a seasonal fashion choice. Their experiences as non-whites in traditionally black spaces engender commentary on what black women experience daily. Their narratives are popular, yet the narratives of black women born to two black parents constitute complaints unless echoing a lesser black woman’s sentiments (see, the me too movement).
Women deemed black by the white media renders the socially and systemically black women obsolete in her own narrative. Thus, the media’s urge to identify and empathize is actually a means to euthanize the black woman as subject and storyteller to what is idiosyncratic to her existence.
If you consider my comments harsh, imagine the outrage that follows a public proclamation from a woman with a black mother that the “royal” family neither accepted nor protected her. My statement does not, in any way, vindicate the atrocities that the “royal” family undoubtedly inflicted onto Meghan or any person of African descent. It is to say that a family whose societal placement embodies the essence of white supremacy is not “surprisingly” racist—they are inevitably and irretrievable racist.
What I mean here is that blood makes the “royal” family “royal.” Therefore, they inherit their status just as one inherits race. Whiteness in particular, constitutes a social inheritance marked by the myth of blood purity. Thus, what’s royal about this family is the royal portrait it paints of white supremacy. I point this out to say that it would be far more startling if they weren’t racist given who this family has always been. Thus, what proves most unsettling is that the conflict isn’t that the royal family is racist but that they treated Markle as if she is black.
For those that implement “she is black” as a rebuttal to my statement, I pose the following query. When has the Duchess ever addressed herself as such? My query does not, in any way, suggest that Markle should identity herself as black. I do, however, take issue with the media regarding Mrs. Markle in a manner oppositional to how she has ever publicly identified herself.
I point out race for several reasons. First, the parity Markle’s narration places between her and the late Princess Diana elucidates that though the interview (and the media coverage) refer to race, the larger argument is one of the gender roles in the monarchy. Specifically, the Markle and Diana juxtaposition posits race as an incovienent methodolgy to elucidate a larger systemic error of outshining the “queen.”
Interestingly, the implicit request seems to be for Meghan to be treated like Diana—to endure censure as a white woman would. Ironically, the black woman who see themselves in the Duchess seeks to maintain the colorism mythos cast onto the black community.
This framing is, of course, per consistent use of the black female experience to elevate the role of women in white supremacy. This charade occurring during Women’s History Month is no accident either.
I use the term mythos neither to discount colorism as a symptom of racism nor contest that blackness comes in all colors. I use the term mythos to note that colorism reflects how racism teaches blacks to see themselves and others. The mythos of hue and hegemony is what makes Meghan Markle a media sensation, and her testimony engenders social shock because it disrupts the mythos of mixed-race blackness. Just as lighter skin is believed to get you into the “house,” a historical metaphor for getting one’s foot in the door, Meghan’s appearance got her into the monarch ( I employ “got her into” loosely). However, her testimony and media treatment, namely the newspaper depiction of her newborn son as a monkey, exposes the myth of access and acceptance as a farce.
The myth of light skin and racially ambiguous features exposes many within the black collective as harboring a Pecola Breedlove mentality. Breedlove, the protagonist of Toni Morrison’s inaugural novel The Bluest Eye (1970), believed that nothing bad would happen in front of her if only her eyes were blue. A similar mythos permeates the black collective with regard to complexion and certain features. Similarly, the shock that followed Markle and Harry’s revelation corresponds to a contemporary mythos that racism is only contingent with the Donald Trump’s of the world.
While it seems that it took a black women’s daughter to expose the evils of an ancient monarchy, Markle embodies black ancestry’s role to widen the scope of whiteness. This widened scope grants social mobility and esteem to everyone but the collective. Namely, focusing on Meghan distracts from more intense realities that continue to impact the black experience.
Additionally, this story does little to consider the untold atrocities this monarchy inflicted on African descent and their global role in imperialist acts. So, when Harry references his family as “trapped” in a system, he articulates an escapist perspective that ignores that he and his family are the system.
Thus, his move to the United States belies a desire for a fresh and race-free start. Rather, this shift reflects the actions of he who wishes to reside in a space where his spousal selection enables him to actualize his power as a white man, not cost him his monetary and social benefits. Therefore, he traded one crown for another, exchanging the British monarchy for the monarchy of American racism. Nevertheless, the interview and its reception elucidate that whiteness remains a global fixture and a common goal for all those cognitively bound to the commonwealth of global white nationalism.