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Meghan Markle’s Experiences Prove the One-Drop Rule Is Still a Barrier for Black Folks

Meghan Markle, though she is a biracial woman, is arguably white-passing. But even her proximity to whiteness couldn’t shield her or her son from the British royal family’s alleged concerns about his blackness. That her child, who has mixed ancestry, might be born with phenotypical Black features was something that some of the family allegedly found so unbearable, they had to speak to Harry, the child’s father, about their concerns. 

It is for this reason that it is, frankly, irrelevant who said it. While Harry specified that it was neither of his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who participated in the damning conversation, the guilty parties are those who seemingly operated with a conviction of protecting the “best interests” of Britain. Perhaps Meghan, as a lighter-skinned woman, may have just gotten one of her first tastes of a conversation of that nature in this scale – the irony is not lost that [a global conversation on colorism is now being centered around a woman whom within the Black community would normally sit on the opposite end of the table.

To that, I should note that the British press has been unfavorable to even those established members of the nobility that have dated within the royal family (see: Princess Diana). But the ask here shouldn’t be to demand that the U.K. or the British royal family learn about anti-racism or any of the de rigeur terms that will move them past culpability for the institutionalized harms they have exacted amongst Black communities, both domestically and abroad. It is to finally realize the irredeemable truth that the United Kingdom as it stands is built on the oppression of Black people and countries, and that is the same legacy that holds the Windsor clan together in kind. 

On Tuesday, March 9, Buckingham Palace released a statement. “The whole family is saddened to learn teh full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the release reads. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”

Harry may want to give his family grace, but unfortunately, that is not something that the rest of the world owes them. As he continues to educate himself on race and bias as he purports to have been doing, perhaps he will come to understand that the monarchy of the United Kingdom is an oppressive and expensive conceit that props up its own members more than it serves the communities it lords over.

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