By Tameika Moore
So everyone is either reading about it, tweeting about it or speaking about it. In some way, we have all engaged with Meghan and Harry’s groundbreaking interview exposing the hellish time Meghan has been subject to during her time as a member of the British royal family. Meghan bravely detailed her experiences with racism, colourism, misogynoir, bullying, mental health and suicidal ideation. She was frank and honest.
Finally, the British public is being confronted with the stark condition of race relations in the United Kingdom.
Gone are the days where Britain was seen as some sort of safe haven away from the racial injustice seen in America – with illustrations of a utopian scape where British people had moved on past their colonial roots and have embraced people with a much more open mind, wherein they ignore the cries of people of colour insisting that the racism we deal with often aligns with the UK’s reputation of pleasantries and politeness. This is but a farce of comfort, that when stripped back, reveals the deeply entrenched institutional racism and microaggressions that will have you questioning if what you had experienced was even racism or not. Our racism tends to be more covert but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or is any less painful.
What is frightening about Meghan’s situation is that much of the discourse today about blackness and the racial binary regarding biracial people concludes that biracial people do get the fairer end of the stick in regards to the perception from society, with colourism, and texturism being a firm advantage for them. However, with Meghan, we have seen a barrage of racially charged headlines and public scrutiny, all while being a white-passing biracial, thus challenging our conversations in regards to race, colourism and the sheer dehumanisation of black people and what it means to be black.
Today a lot of people -the majority of which were white or non-black -, woke up and were shocked at what Meghan had faced. Meanwhile, black people across the world are bemused at the wilful ignorance of people who refused to see racism in this situation. In Meghan’s case, as a light-skinned, white-passing biracial, the assumption is that with her pale skin, more euro-typical features and straightened hair, she would have a far easier ride; yet this simply wasn’t the case.
Instead, we saw the manifestation of the one-drop rule hold precedence again, centuries after its genesis. Not only is it upsetting to see, but it’s also a stark reminder of our colonial roots as a once imperial nation. In fact, the imagery of such an archaic belief of one drop of black blood tarnishing the very humanity of her future son and sabotaged her ability to navigate royal life with common decency and respect within the very institution that upheld and remained steadfast in the dehumanisation of black people is arguably ironic. To an extent, it could even be argued as inevitable.
Moving on from this, the reaction to this on social media has been … less than desired. An onslaught of tweets wishing that Archie “marries a black woman” and has ‘dark skin babies with her’ is not only confusing but incredibly stupid. How does one hear the abuse a white-passing biracial has faced and the only take away from that discourse is that you want their infant son to procreate with a dark skin black women? The most tragic thing about this discourse is that it is coming from black people themselves. I feel as if this is the perfect example of internalised antiblackness that lays dormant in a lot of black people, whereby we will use the guise of making jokes as a coping mechanism in order to get away with making the most stupid and unfunny “jokes”.
As a black woman myself, I understand that this is rooted in trauma and how we aim to make these jokes before other people do in order to control the level of pain from it. Listen, people may read this and not understand why or how I have turned this into something so complex, but jokes such as this showcase and set a precedent for others that black women should simply be used as pawns in creating chaos which is dehumanising.
Black women do not exist to prove your points, to be symbols of rebellion or become burdens to racist families and institutions. “Jokes” such as these only create add to the disenfranchisement of the black woman. How are these tweets any different from white people wanting to date black people to ‘piss off their parents’ that we all rightfully find offensive? How is there such a lack of respect for black women that this kind of message can even cross your mind? When will we as black people critique our internalised antiblackness and do our parts to not regress the standard of the black woman? We too are deserving of happiness that is pure and good-intentioned.
Before I end, I want to touch on something that I have been thinking about since the BLM riots last year and the social media discourse that ensued since then. Toni Morrison put it perfectly when she said:
“The very serious function of racism … is a distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Toni. We underestimate how much chaos, stress and anxiety issues that deal with race can cause, To any black men and especially black women reading this, you are more than allowed to not engage with these discussions. I understand first-hand the fatigue that comes from continuously partaking in these conversations but I just want to remind you that you are not any less of a person or activist for not constantly engaging in very traumatic material. Your humanity is not solely based on fighting for our rights. It’s okay to simply exist as not just a black person but as a human being.
Tameika Moore is a placement year student studying English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.