If the Royal family are an emblem of Britishness then a black woman being accepted and her children being accepted into their family, would mean that by extension we were, in a way we had never been before. It would mean that blackness wasn’t just allowed to exist in England, it was openly a part of it. To Be Black Is to be black is also to be British- finally…
They will be unpicking and discussing the famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) Meghan and Harry interview for years to come. From conversations surrounding mental health, to the relevance of the monarchy, and of course, race and racism, both within the royal family and in Britain as a whole.
We could sit for hours analysing the print coverage of Meghan, the sheer amount of explicit discussions of her race and the not so subtle hints at it.
But I want to start off by saying that for me and, I believe, a large number of black people in this country I was happy to see Meghan join the Royal Family at first. Then there is Archie. The first irrefutably mixed race royal (and if given the title) prince of England.
If the Royal family are an emblem of Britishness then a black woman and her children being accepted by their family and the British public, would mean that by extension we were, in a way we had never been before. It would mean that blackness wasn’t just allowed to exist in England, it was openly a part of it. To be black is also to be British- finally.
But that is not what happened and that’s not what I want to talk about.
The question for me is, do you believe Meghan and Harry?
Do you believe that someone asked about how dark her child would be and was concerned?
I’ll get straight to it.
I believe them.
I believe them because it resonates so much with aspects of my own life and the experiences of my parents and grandparents.
It is an echo of when my white grandmother walked down the street with my mixed race uncle and a woman said, ‘what’s a nice white woman like you doing with a baby like that?’
It is an echo of colourism, of light skinned black people and mixed race people who can ‘pass’ as white being allowed to more comfortably exist in spaces darker skinned ones were, and are, not.
It is an echo of a white ex telling me a member of his family tried to gauge how dark I was before they met me. Pointing at actresses on the TV and asking him if I was Halle Berry light or Whoopi Goldberg dark?
Then there is this desire by some for Meghan and Harry to name the person. To essentially prove those allegations. It is the same thing often asked of black people whenever they try to discuss their experiences of racism.
It misses the point of sharing stories like this. The point isn’t to necessarily hold perpetrators of racism legally or publicly accountable; it’s to shed a light on the reality of what it is to be black and mixed race in Britain. From the working class to the upper echelons of society.
Talking about encounters of racism, especially when it is personal, especially to a mainly white audience is terrifying. I’ve been there. You arm yourself with as many facts and statistics as you can, you strive for objectivity, to keep your voice calm. You try to prepare yourself for the onslaught of questions, the:
- Well don’t we all get called names?
- What about black people that make fun of people being white?
- What about black on black violence?
- We all have to change our hair for work, why Is it racism when you have to?
All boiling down to one, often unsaid question, the one that makes me so mad, so tired, and sometimes so scared to open my mouth and speak. The question that tells us our lived experiences are not enough. Why should we believe you?
The answer is this. I can’t prove it. Meghan and Harry, even if they named the person, probably can’t prove it. That’s just a case of his or her word against theirs.
So, why should you believe it? You should believe it because the story that Meghan and Harry told in 2021, is the same story of my grandparents, of my parents, and now of me. 3 generations in and the story has not changed.
That’s why you should believe us when we speak.
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