Meghan Markle is a prime example of how the business of racism and anti-blackness work in the world, with specific attention to the context of the UK, the epicenter of it all. It should be common knowledge that the foundations of the modern world are rooted in colonialism and capitalism. Birthed from the Europeans calculated exploitation of African people through slavery.
The historical backdrop is necessary to understand the deliberate mistreatment of Meghan, and defamation of character perpetrated through UK media. It goes further to highlight and reveal parallels between her life as a non-white member of the royal family and black women in the UK and across the Western world. Indeed there are clear comparisons to that of the late Princess Diana but the motivating factor is different.
She identifies as bi-racial, as she is. However, it is integral to understand that the pushback, bullying, and harassment she’s received is due to her racial identity. She was harangued relentlessly by the British press with falsified accusations of character. Whether it was how she didn’t fare in comparison to Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, to nonsensical propaganda about her ‘preying’ on Prince Harry, before their marriage.
The weight of the language used to describe Meghan’s character is of great importance as it is laced with racist undertones.
‘Manipulative…evil…woke schemer, etc.’ are some of the words used concerning Meghan. They depict and create an image about her which in turn becomes reflective of her ‘personality’ to the public. These incorrect and biased terms are rooted in racist rhetoric that predates the Duchess of Sussex.
“English conceptualisation of blackness and the legal and social arguments for Atlantic slavery formed relationally in the colonial period. To the extent that blackness was understood as a physical sign of moral depravity.’”
“Over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the English transformed the concept of blackness into an inheritable monstrosity.”
It is the black in Meghan’s bi-racial identity that makes her intolerable and permanently tainted in the mind of the white mainstream. The baseless discrepancies over her character are ingrained in the very understanding and somewhat ‘definition’ or ‘concept’ of blackness, by the English. This conception acted as the blueprint in the past developing world and transcended into the present. The creation of ‘blackness’ being inherently ‘evil’ by the English during the 16th and 17th centuries and the mistreatment of Meghan are directly related.
It permits and gives power to unfounded racist truths. It justifies the abuse and supports racism and anti-blackness within societies across the world.
“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of colour to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us.” This statement by Serena Williams, addressing the public in support of her friend, Meghan, in light of the royal couple’s Oprah interview explains the crux issues faced by black and bi-racial women, albeit to varying degrees.
Reason being, that the severity of maltreatment faced by an individual is heavily dependent on how visibly black they appear. Colourism, texturism, and featurism are the determining factors that decide the scale of preferential treatment they receive. This being more favourable dependent on the closer they are to perceived Eurocentricity. However this is not indicative, nor representative of their ethnic or racial heritage. Neither does it tell the story of the spectrum of Blackness itself.
The layered experience of identities faced by black women is unique to that of other women. The presence of ‘blackness’ is particularly damning as its wrongful and racist recognition precedes that of the individual. So they are victimised and forced to defend themselves off the bat, as is illustrated with Meghan’s circumstance.
The British monarchy is simply the physical representation of societal systems at play across the world.
Its hierarchal structure is a replicated template. In a world where ‘whiteness’ and Eurocentric ideals are centred and pitted in stark contrast to black identity, the presence of racism and anti-blackness will prevail.