Disregard the fact that Meghan Markle is an American actress with impeccable style who is engaged to Prince Harry — the British media can’t stop calling her a “mixed-race” celebrity with enslaved ancestors.
British station Sky News offered the descriptor during a May 7th special called “Harry, Meghan, and Race” in which the host said, “This is the first royal wedding where the bride’s ethnicity has made headlines. A mixed-race American actress whose ancestors were slaves marrying a British prince.”
In November, the Daily Mail titled one story, “Now that’s upwardly mobile! How in 150 years, Meghan Markle’s family went from cotton slaves to royalty via freedom in the U.S. Civil War… while her dad’s ancestors included a maid at Windsor Castle.” The headline generated anger on Twitter, particularly for two infographics in the story titled “Mum’s side: Dirt Poor in Deep South” and “Dad’s Side: A Minor, Cobbler — and an Essex Boy.”
Another story by the Mail was titled “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed — so will he be dropping by for tea?” which explored the crime rate of Markle’s mom Donna Ragland’s “rundown” hometown of Crenshaw, Los Angeles in California and her history of filing for bankruptcy.
Markle, who has an African-American mother and a Caucasian father, has shared the discrimination she’s faced as a bi-racial woman. In a 2016 essay for Elle, the 36-year-old wrote, “To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”
Markle’s engagement is worthy of attention considering she’s an American divorcee, one of few African-American women to marry into the royal family (which historically has financially benefitted from the British slave trade), and just like Kate Middleton, she has no royal roots. However, the objectification of Markle’s ethnicity is uncalled for, says royal expert Kelly Lynch, managing editor of entertainment site Dailybreak.
“The Queen is not racist and there is no internal tension over Meghan’s lineage,” Lynch tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In fact, Prince Albert, who is Queen Victoria’s consort advocated against slavery in the 1800s.”
Markle and Harry are not likely advocating to be poster children for diversity and if anything, the racist coverage of their relationship has only revealed their deep commitment.
In late 2016, Harry released a statement expressing concern over the public’s obsession with Markle’s ethnicity. “His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment,” read the statement. “Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
The statement continued, “…[Prince Harry] knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game’. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
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