Let’s talk about the Royal Wedding for a moment. In case you missed it, the social media event of the weekend was the marriage of Britain’s Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle, and this was a special occasion for a number of reasons:
First, it’s always a big moment when anybody in the Royal Family marries as they have such a small and private circle that is nearly impossible to penetrate.
Second, Prince Harry, the reformed bad boy of the Queen’s two grandsons, finally settled down and matured, and
Third, this was the first interracial marriage in the history of the Royal Family…well almost but we’ll get to that later.
While the ceremony itself was elegant and filled with celebrity appearances by Oprah, the Clooneys, Serena Williams and many more, what we really need to talk about is the importance of representation as it pertains to Meghan Markle. Markle is the daughter of a white father and black mother making her a biracial woman. It’s no shock that the union of Harry and Meghan has sparked debates about race and identity on both sides of the pond, and the couple has come face to face with bigotry since they began dating. With that being said, what really gets me is the alarming amount of negativity and hate speech coming from the black community in the US. Now, when it comes to being biracial in the black community, it doesn't matter which parent is black, how curly your hair is or whose facial features you inherit more of. Depending on how much of the non-black parent you take after whether they be white, Asian, or Hispanic, you might be able to pass as another race. Markle along with singers Halsey and Khelani, and actors Rashida Jones, Vin Diesel, and Maya Rudolph are just a few examples of biracial people with a black parent who are “racially ambiguous” or even white presenting. The point is, you can’t pick and choose which traits a person will inherit or how they’ll look as a product of mixed race parentage. At the end of it all, if you grew up in the black community you are more than likely considered black.
Meghan has talked often about her struggle growing up biracial and not fitting in as either white or black. She is very close to her mother and remembers seeing how she was sometimes treated because of her skin color and the impact it had on her growing up. Yet, people have gone so far as to say that she doesn’t acknowledge her black side as if she wasn’t raised by her SINGLE BLACK MOTHER in 1980s LA during the height of the LA riots. The racial tension was thick and surrounded young Meghan and affected her views on race and identity. It’s pretty ignorant to suggest that despite all of the conscious decisions to include elements of black culture in her ceremony that Meghan doesn’t understand the cultural and historical significance of her marriage to Prince Harry. Her wedding, which she had a big hand in planning broke years of Royal traditions in every way and incorporated several elements of black culture and her upbringing including a full gospel choir singing “Stand By Me” and Bishop Michael Curry giving a truly black sermon.
Markel with her mother Doria Ragland (l), Doria being escorted by Prince Charles (r)
There seems to be this whole idea among the internet “Hoteps” that celebrating or being interested in anything that isn’t wholly black automatically aligns one on the side of the oppressor and white supremacy. Just scan the comments of the wedding pics posted by The Shaderoom and you’ll see statements claiming Markle’s biracial identity discredits her blackness and black people tuning into the wedding is another affirmation of white supremacy. Humans are complex creatures and we all possess the ability to have multiple concerns and cares at one time, but it’s as if black people are constrained to a small bubble of things that we can care about at any given time. Step outside of that box and you are labeled as problematic and against the culture. When did we get to a point that we started policing one another’s interests and using them to determine how “woke” we are? Furthermore, why does it matter? Yes, unfortunately, black people are still being murdered in the streets at alarming rates. Yes, it was Malcolm X’s birthday on the day of the Royal Wedding, and yes the effects of the 22 school shootings and lack of gun control are splitting the country in two. With all of the truly shitty and heartbreaking things happening in the world, isn’t it a good thing to take a small mental break to do things that make us happy? Is it not possible to enjoy watching two people celebrate their love and watch the beautiful fashions of the attendees, or are we really expected to live in a perpetual state of sadness and anger? Let people be happy and enjoy things whether it’s binge-watching Love and Hip Hop, Power or the Royal Wedding. It doesn’t diminish the importance of any of the issues mentioned above and the fight to change those circumstances will/must continue.
The British crown has a long history of being a world superpower with its successes based on colonization and racism. The fact that Markle has been accepted in the way she has by the Royal Family and nation is a huge achievement. While she is not the first black British royal (look up Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg, my hometown Charlotte, NC is named after her) for the first time in the modern age, we can actually witness history being made. We saw Meghan arriving at St, George's Chapel with her mother Doria wearing an apple green ensemble, a head full of gorgeous locks and glowing brown skin. We saw her being escorted in by Prince Charles and having tea with Queen Elizabeth herself. And most importantly, we saw the love that Harry and Meghan clearly have for each other in the tender moments and exchanges they shared at the ceremony. The proof is in the pictures, there’s no whitewashing this one. So please, let’s let Meghan, or shall we say the Duchess of Sussex, have her moment and celebrate this breaking down of centuries-old racial barriers in the Royal Family.