The Debate Over Meghan Markle's 'Blackness' Proves Racism Comes From All Sides When You're Biracial

meghan markle
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Light bright, Oreo, yellow bone, mulatto … these are all names I've been called on multiple occasions. And a quick scroll through Twitter will reveal that actress and future royal Meghan Markle has been called a few of these names herself. Of course a 23-year-old journalist doesn't have much in common with a 36-year-old actress who is engaged to a British prince, but one thing we do have in common is the constant debate surrounding our identity and how "enough" we are.

  • Recently, there hasn't really been anything more talked about than Meghan's engagement to Prince Harry.

    meghan markle and prince harry
    Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

    On November 27, Clarence House officially announced the historic engagement. Although the engagement itself wasn't too shocking, considering the couple had been dating for a little over a year, the fact that someone like Meghan was now going to become a royal shook the world. Not only is Meghan American, but she is also divorced and (the most controversial aspect of it all) a woman of color. 

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  • Much of social media instantly rejoiced in the fact that there would finally be a "black princess."

  • Although there is debate over the technicalities of her being a "princess" or even being the first black woman to marry a European royal, it is still an EXTREMELY rare instance that we have not seen in our lifetimes.

    And, in my opinion, it is definitely worth celebrating. 

  • However, many feel that because Meghan has light skin and identifies as biracial, she is somehow "not black."

  • As someone who is also black and white, I know that having lighter skin typically allows me more privilege and acceptance in society than someone who has darker skin. But, I do not agree that being biracial gives me the same amount of privilege as someone who is not black at all.

    I've still been pulled over by white cops, on my way home from work or class, for no reason at all, and questioned about if MY car belonged to me or not. I can think of at least three times that's happened. 

    While interviewing for jobs, I still debate if I should take a flat iron to my hair. Not because I think I would look better that way, but because I know I could possibly lose out on an opportunity if they think my natural curls look "unkempt" or "unprofessional." 

    When you tell mixed people that they are not black, not only are you dismissing an entire portion of their identity, but you are also perpetuating the idea that their struggle is not valid. It may not be exactly the same, but it does exist and it's important to not allow the shades of our blackness to divide us in a society that has already marginalized us.

    I remember when a friend's mom was talking to my boyfriend at the time and told him he couldn't handle a "real black woman." She said that right in front of me and my heart shattered so quickly that I had to pretend I forgot something in my car when I really just didn't want to bust out in tears in front of everyone. 

  • Someone even took the conversation as far as to say that Meghan is a "tragic mulatto" who is running from her blackness by being with a white man.

    Seriously?? 

  • First of all, Meghan's mother IS black. This is a fact and it means that Meghan is also black. Her identifying as biracial or mixed does not translate into her denouncing her blackness.

    Karwai Tang/Getty Images

    I also identify as biracial most of the time. I have no problem with calling myself a black woman, but if I only referred to myself as black at all times, I would be called out and told I'm wrong and that I don't truly understand the struggle. On the flip side, if I only said I was white, I would damn sure get called out because no one is going to believe it when you look at my curly hair, wide nose, and brown freckles, no matter how pale my skin may get in the winter.  

  • Below are a few photos of me with my biological dad and various family members -- all related to me by blood. Are you going to tell me I'm not black?

    The first time that I can recall being confused about my race was in second grade when my teacher asked me, "What are you?" I honestly didn't know how to answer. Although the majority of people I meet assume I'm Hispanic, I am actually African American, Native American, Irish, and probably a few other things sprinkled in. 

  • Growing up in the Detroit area, I was always heavily into collecting sneakers and obsessing over rap music. For that, I've been told I was "trying to act black." I also had all honors and AP courses growing up and spoke with decent grammar. For that, I was called "a white girl."

    Kayla Boyd/CafeMom

    The truth is, NONE of those things signify race. They were simply my personal interests. Sure, they may have partially stemmed from my upbringing or the culture I was surrounded by, but no matter what I liked or what grades I got, it was not a direct reflection of my DNA.

  • Kayla Boyd/CafeMom
  • In an essay Meghan wrote in 2015, she explained some of the complexities that come with identity when you're biracial, including not knowing which box to mark -- an instance I can relate to all too well.

    Meghan wrote for Elle:

    "There was a mandatory census I had to complete in my English class -- you had to check one of the boxes to indicate your ethnicity: white, black, Hispanic or Asian. There I was (my curly hair, my freckled face, my pale skin, my mixed race) looking down at these boxes, not wanting to mess up, but not knowing what to do. You could only choose one, but that would be to choose one parent over the other -- and one half of myself over the other. My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. 'Because that's how you look, Meghan,' she said. I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion. I couldn't bring myself to do that, to picture the pit-in-her-belly sadness my mother would feel if she were to find out. So, I didn't tick a box. I left my identity blank -- a question mark, an absolute incomplete -- much like how I felt."

  • However, although she may be racially ambiguous or "white-passing" to some people, that doesn't mean she is exempt from facing racism as a result of her blackness.

    Just last week, this completely nonsensical headline appeared on the Daily Mail -- complete with a detailed map of Meghan's ancestry. 

  • One Twitter user claimed she's "not suitable" because she's a divorced black woman from the "ghetto."

  • Oh, and the prince marrying a black woman is the result of a "Utopian modern age" ... quite a stretch, don't you think?

  • So, no matter how you spin it, Meghan and other mixed-race individuals (like myself) are constantly told that we are neither black nor white enough.

    Meghan Markle
    Johns PKI/Splash News
  • Meghan may choose to perm her hair, marry a white man, and call herself "biracial," but not one of those factors gives anyone the right to tell her she is not black.

    meghan markle
    Derek Storm/Splash News
  • So, here's to MY "BLACK PRINCESS"!


race racial issues racism royals