Royal Racism

My reaction to Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry

Did y’all see Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan? I took over the big tv in our house and informed everyone in advance that I would need two hours to be witness to Meghan’s story. Outside of watching The Crown and being so genuinely sad when Lady Diana died, I don’t have much invested in The Royal Family. But over the years, a lot of people have done the work to analyze how differently Meghan has been treated in the press, compared to Kate Middleton. And it’s no secret that the pair felt the need to leave. So I was ready to hear Meghan tell her own story. As a Black girl, I just wanted to be her witness, you know?

What I wasn’t prepared for was identifying so much with the stories Meghan told. I was just there to nod; who knew I was going to be rocking back and forth in a corner of my couch by the time it was done? Not I!

Just for the sake of clarity, I was not surprised to hear about racism. I knew that was coming, hence my desire to listen. But in some deep recess of my brain I somehow thought that royal racism would be less… well, basic. I thought the Royal Racism would be more like: the monarchy paid for Kate Middleton to wear a $5,000 dress but Meghan had to go to JCPennys. You know what I mean? Instead, it turns out Meghan’s experience mirrors that of so many Black women trying to navigate white spaces in the most basic of ways. Please allow me to recap just a few:

  1. Middleton won’t correct a story she knows to be false because she’d have to admit that she was the one in the wrong. So now Meghan is cast as “the problem” and left to fend for herself.

  2. Meghan sought help for mental anguish and is told that seeking help would look bad on everyone. So she suffers in silence. (Don’t get me started on how every Black women discovers that HR is not our friend).

  3. Meghan sees her background as a benefit to the institution because of the ways it will allow her to connect to others and bring some sense of newness. Instead she is seen as a threat simply for who she is.

  4. She succeeds in her role (Australian Tour) and instead of being embraced, she’s perceived as more of a threat.

  5. I have a lot of biracial friends who were born before the “multiracial-diversity-celebration-era” and so many of them have stories about being mistreated and rejected from one side of the family or the other.

  6. The way the very traditional institution was going to suddenly create a new policy to rid Archie of his title and making a rule to take away security- not because of a change in threat but because of a change in title- whew. So many Black women can tell you awful stories about how titles/roles are manipulated against us.

  7. When Meghan ended the interview by saying she has only one regret: “Believing them. Believing they would protect me.” Listen, I could hear the sound of Black women’s hearts breaking all over again. The pain of wanting to believe that this time will be different… only to find an institution that will protect itself at all costs- even if the cost is your own well-being.

I hope after watching the interview that Black women, and other women of color, took some time for themselves. I hope they took care of their hearts.

But you know what I hope for white people who watched and were horrified? I hope they asked the question, “How are the Black women in my life having similar experiences?” Or “In what ways am I acting like the firm?”

The racism is so basic, y’all. It’s so very basic.

I do want to give a nod to the many other takeaways regarding the interview- the obvious privilege, the multiple layers of power, the potential role of colorist, the lack of discussing colonization- historic or present, and of course the many parallels to Lady Di. My intention here is not to minimize these things, but instead to offer an immediate, emotional reaction I was having… and that I know a lot of other Black women were having too.

Our stories matter.

*typos are to prove my humanity*