Castle in the Interracial Sky
Half of my roots come from Britain and the other half Barbados, which is a British Commonwealth. I was born in Canada, which is also recognized as part of the British Commonwealth, yet the idea of “The Queen” never excited me as it did to others in my family. Maybe it was her cold and impersonal disposition when appearing on television. However, the last few years I have found myself clicking on the photos of the royal family and caught up in the gossip articles. It was more of a way to past time (you know the rabbit hole of Facebook) or just keep up with the conversations around the dinner table.
Recently Meghan Markle became the newest member of the royal circle. This interracial woman who I have admired for her ability to kick butt in a fierce but feminine manner on Suits, here she is now putting on a royal tiara. My inner bride needed to be in all the conversations to know all the little details surrounding this royal union. There was one particular conversation that was most interesting. It reminded me that racism is not just from Caucasian people, but from colored people as well.
I was engaged with those of darker skin than me (I am about the same complexion as Ms. Markle) and said, “it is pretty cool that a monarch, that has never allowed another race in their family, is finally getting with the times. I hope this starts conversation and shows awareness, in other commonwealths, that not all colored people are an episode of Maury. As well as provides a “stronger” voice to the injustices currently happening in the states.” Their responses were disturbing… The individuals I was speaking with stated comments such as “she is not black”, “until the African royalty blends with Britain it won’t count”, “she is American black so it is not a win”, “she looks white so it is no win because once she has kids the black is gone”. Shocking I know.
Instantly my mind went to the well-known letter “The Making of a Slave”, which was penned after a speech given by Willie Lynch. In the letter, is essentially Willie Lynch instructing slave masters to create tension and distrust, among the African slaves, through physical characteristics such as skin color and age. To make them hate each other for being lighter, darker, younger and older. We are past the days of being abducted from our home, confined in small spaces, locked in chains or whipped and beaten, but yet still we are judging one another over skin tone. We are still looking for reasons to judge instead of love and support.
In that moment my heart bled for Meghan as I too understood her pain like so many of us with mixed backgrounds. Let’s say you are half white and half black. When you are in a group predominantly filled with white people you are labelled the “black friend or black co-worker”. When you are in a group predominantly filled with black people you are labelled the “white friend or white co-worker”. Our actions are categorized into which ever race the group sees i.e. “that is your white side dancing” or “you’re running on black people time”.
When you are mixed race your actions are never just your actions. They are associated with the race that stereotypically performs that action. When you are mixed race you’re expected to know, and do everything of the race that runs in your DNA. When with your white friends you should be the “expert” on the black race. Yet when you are with your black friends you should be the “expert” on the white race. When amongst a race that you are not mixed with you they tend to guess what you are, and then you labelled with whatever they come up with.
Somehow media has convinced us that being of mixed race is a beautiful dream. That there are individuals who seek out mixed race children. Comments such as, “they will have great hair”, “they will have a tanned skin tone”, “they will know two cultures and never face bias”. However, none of those things can be guaranteed. I am a twin with an interracial background and yet neither myself or my brother have similar hair or skin tone. We have both experienced countless bias and racism due to our appearance, habits, names, and more. However, the shocking part is personally I receive it more from those of color than those who are Caucasian. Interestingly enough I will never receive that bias judgement from someone who is mixed.
See, Meghan has entered the royal household of Windsor as Meghan, a strong female and innovator, who was born in the United States to parents of different races. Whether we regard her as black, white, interracial, American, actress, advocate or female we need to acknowledge that her life has begun to change. Her responsibilities will change; her time will now consist of royal obligations subjugated by rules and more. As she assumes her new title as Duchess of Sussex let’s not forget that she was an activist. Here’s to trusting she will use her new position as a catalyst for a positive change.
P.S. If you are still judging her for being mixed remember she inspired the Prince to go on a trip to Africa for a week to bond, ushered in a black gospel choir in the royal church, and will probably still be eating collard greens like the rest of us.