Prince Harry has proposed to Meghan Markle. However, Meghan stated during her BBC interview that the focus on her ethnicity was a ‘shame’ and ‘disheartening’. She is right, but it is also pointless and inconsequential. We should be celebrating two people in love, who are willing to spend the rest of their lives together; rather, than some antiquated royal validation of Black beauty or worthiness. Or worst, counterfactual statements about Britain’s racial utopian future. Sadly, too many BAME people are not free from the burden of seeking validation in white spaces.
So many or too many journalists, writers, bloggers and the many people who care about the lover affairs of people they do not know personally, are writing as if Prince Harry married a Brixton born, Black Lives Matter activists, with a degree in Black Studies from the University of Birmingham, who has a Black panther tattoo on her thigh, that is only covered up by a Fidel Castro T-shirt and Dashiki.
Sorry to say, Prince Harry did not marry this mythical stereotype of revolutionary fever. And, even if he had proposed to someone that had matched the abovementioned exaggerated criteria of so-called ‘blackness’, it still would not have mattered significantly.
The facts are, Prince Harry will be marrying Meghan Markle, an actress, humanitarian, American and a woman who happens to be Mixed Race. Meghan being Mixed Race should not define her or be used as a symbol of Britain’s racial future, utopia or validation. No one voted for her. This is not a reflection of society, even though 1 in 10 people are in interracial relationships. That still means 90% of people are not. Just as some people complained about her ethnicity and some people celebrated it. Both sets of people should have simply not cared about it either way. In short, their marriage is not the destruction of white Britishness and nor is it the validation of Black Britishness. We should not over celebrate the royals joining the rest of us in 2017. Or seek royal approval of our beauty through Disney story-line fantasies.
White/royal validation of Black or Mixed Race beauty, intelligence or in this case worthiness of a ‘royal bloodline’ should not be the foundation of Black, Mixed Race or any people’s achievements, celebrations or self-worth. Was Meghan Markle any less of an exceptional person before Prince Harry got down on one knee? Were Black or Mixed race women any less beautiful, intelligent or worthy of a princess like status before Prince Harry popped the question? The Answer is the same as when people talk about Black people being slaves. The truth is Black people were enslaved but slavery was always wrong just because white people decided slavery was wrong in 1833(Britain) or 1865(USA), does not mean slavery was not wrong before that date. White people or in this case a white person deciding when it is ok to marry a person of colour should not and is not the validation of our self-worth or how we should perceive ourselves. Even more so, when it has no historical impact when compared to the legislative end of slavery. As Bob Marley said:
‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.’
Writing about the marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as a win for Black people is founded upon spurious logic. Especially, when writers like Afua Hirsch, base their logic that because royals like Baroness Kate Gavron made a quasi-racist statement that Prince Charles ‘should have married someone Black’ or that in 80s interracial couples were harassed, that one marriage somehow overrules, supersedes and frees the rest of Black British community from racist, questioning of our Britishness and birthright.
Do you seriously think that when Richard Spencer questioned Gary Younge’s Britishness during their heated debate on nationalism and race, Gary could have ended the debate with ‘Stop, we have a Mixed Race princess now; that validates me and my Britishness’. No of course not! Gary stated in his own words, from his own validation that he was an Englishman and that Richard Spencer nor anyone else could tell him otherwise.
So to say that the addition of Meghan to the royal family somehow makes the rest of us Black British people now acceptable, validated or royally stamped and approved as bonified British people, is both ridiculous and counter-intuitive.
I was British the second I decided on 20th December 1987 in Northampton General Hospital, that the world was ready for me to enter it and my mum had grown tired of carrying me around in her womb. Moreover, during the MANY times I have debated, argued or fought racist fellow Britains whom would attempt to make me not feel at home, I never thought ‘but only if Prince Charles would marry Moira Stuart or Nichelle Nicholas then all my troubles would be over’. No, I defended myself, my Blackness and my British, with no other validation than my own.
This same ridiculous logic was used when President Barack Obama was elected. People proclaimed America had now entered a post-racial future. People celebrated as if every single White person had voted for the First Black(Mixed Race) president. However, I have not the word count or inclination to list just how wrong they were. So, I will simply say two words- President Trump. Oh and Dylan Roof, and Alt-Right & Charlestown White Nationalist Rally and, actually, that’s more than two words, but you get the point. Racism did not end. Yet, an election is at least a democratic process, whereby 43% of White American’s voted for Obama. Whereas, Prince Harry is one person. No election. He fell in love with a woman, she fell in love with him and she happened to be a Mixed race and he happened to be a prince. No more no less.
With that said, Prince Harry is a state figure and a key member of the British Royal family. Thus, I won’t be as obtuse to downplay the significance of his wedding engagement. I can see why some people care about the love affairs of someone they may never meet and do not know personally. Just as I can see why some people will be focused on the ethnicity of Meghan. However, just as I care little for the symbolic role the Royals play, I care even less about symbolic gestures or perception. We have already seen how despite Sir Mo Farah goldenly running his heart out, Islamaphobia did not stop. Just as racism did not end with Jessie Ennis’s world-beating running, jumping and throwing, that enabled her to stand victorious on Olympic and world podiums, representing Britain and standing for our anthem. One inter-racial marriage symbolic or not, won’t cause significant change.
Personally, I hope my three nieces self-worth does not go up or down simply because a Prince decided to propose to someone close to their shade of skin colour. Their self-worth like anyone else’s should come from themselves no matter whom they see in the media with a crown on their head. Thus, sentences that begin with ‘look Meghan is mixed race and she is a princess’, are not helpful for the longevity of any BAME child’s mental health or self-worth.
There is a big difference between growing up and seeing that if you work hard enough you could gain the qualifications, experience, popular support and belief, that could enable you to become President; when compared to being ‘good-looking’ enough on an aesthetic and personal level and in the right social circles to have a prince want to take you on a date. Love and significant political elections should not be compared no matter the ‘symbolic stature’ of one of the partners.
Moreover, this proposal promise of racial harmony has not made me forget that promoters of racist and Islamaphobic propaganda ‘Britain First’ has 1.9 Million followers on Facebook and for EDL Leader Tommy Robinson has 600 thousand likes. Both of which this week shared propaganda against the BBC diversity hire scheme. So, unless Meghan is going to starting speaking out or at least explain race relations to the growing number of British people who lack awareness, then I have little time for symbolism. If her Black heritage does not compel her to speak on issues that effect BAME people then, her race is inconsequential.
I will say it is strange that even though we live in an era when people’s old tweets are being used as evidence of their bad character; everyone seems to have forgotten about the video evidence of Prince Harry’s racism (at age 21), when he referred to his fellow British soldier of Asian ethnicity as ‘our little Paki friend’. This to me makes it seem like Prince Harry has had an awakening of maturity and tolerance, rather than a reflection of society’s future.
Historically, there have been inter-racial couples in Britain for years. For instance, Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom tells the story of the impact of an inter-racial marriage. They faced racism, just as many other couples for years to come. But with each decade and generation, the comments and prejudice become less and less. However, that marriage changed a nation, but this one will not. Why? because this is 2017, not 1948. If Botswana could accept a White woman as royalty in 1948 then Britain should not even be mentioning it as an issue in 2017.
People should simply be happy that two people have found love and wish them well. Rather than using their love as symbolism for our theories and/or hopes.
Quick point: Meghan is an actress, what happens now if she is asked to do a kissing scene?
Antoine Allen @Antoinespeakson
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