Oh, and don’t even get me started on the “she doesn’t even look Black” trope that I’ve read more times than I care to remember. “Do you look at [Meghan] and see a black woman? Cause I don’t,” an infamous quote from LBC host Andrew Pierce: “I see a very attractive woman. It’s never occurred to me.”. He then proceeded to mansplain his very own definition of a ‘real Black woman’: “I never look at her and think, gosh she’s Black, in the way you would at Oprah Winfrey.”. Yes, I too was appalled by this statement.
In the docu-series, Meghan’s mum Doria Ragland references how she flagged to Meghan that her negative experience in the spotlight moving forward was very much going to be centred around race, to which Meghan responded with “Mommy, I don’t wanna hear that.” Meghan too, was very much in denial at first, but the signs were too loud to ignore.
“It’s very different to be a minority but to not be treated as a minority right off the bat. I’d say now, people are aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I came to the UK, but before that, most people didn’t treat me like a ‘Black women’ so that talk didn’t have to happen for me,” says Meghan early on the second episode. Doria, then references soon after that she regrets not preparing and perhaps better equipping a young Meghan to tackle be it racism, racial bias or micro aggressions, or explaining in detail how the world will ultimately end up always seeing her. The fact that this is a conversation that people still need to have with their children is telling to how slowly we’re progressing towards racial equality.
Another popular retort from the public after that Oprah interview was “bad timing”. Didn’t Meghan know that Prince Philip was in hospital? Don’t the couple realise there’s a global pandemic? The interview was labeled tone-deaf and insensitive as a result. Then now, the timing is also off, after all, we’re in a financial and energy crisis, a result of the Russia vs Ukraine war and the pandemic. I must have missed the memo as to when suffering became an exclusive and limited right, but I’ve always been of the belief that different forms and sources of suffering can co-exist and there’s enough space for all experiences to be heard and held.
All of these reactions made it clear that Meghan was clearly not valued enough by the Royal family nor the British public to be protected, or even accepted. It’s not hard to understand why — the Institution, and indeed, the entire British empire, is built off the back of white supremacy and a regime that conquered and colonised countries to exploit their resources and enslave their people for hundreds of years.
As a result, racism has been woven into every fibre of British society, from the judicial system, to healthcare, to education. Black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. There were a disproportionate number of Black people dying as a result of Covid, (up to 50% more likely than their white counterparts). 38/1000 Black people are stopped and searched by police as opposed to just 4/1000 white people. The list goes on.
So how did this disparity between the facts and the general belief of the people come to be? Why is it when someone comes out and says the British public and Royal family is racist, people still don’t believe them? Even Markle’s own father doesn’t believe her claims. From his white male gaze he claims categorically that neither the Palace nor the UK as a nation is racist. He boldly claimed on ITV’s This Morning: “I don’t think the British Royal Family are racist, I don’t think the British are racist AT ALL.”. Meghan finally openly addresses the situation with her father in the series, detailing the lead up the the wedding. Her side of the story seems very different than what was originally reported. As she explains, it wasn’t that she uninvited her father to the wedding and made herself estranged from that side of the family, it’s that he picked tabloid money over his own daughter and went ghost — f*ck-boy style.