The one-drop rule is a historical concept that means anyone with a black ancestor is considered black. After hearing a member of the Royal Family question how dark Meghan and Harry’s unborn child would be, I think this proves this ideology is still alive and well.
I’m sure many tuned into Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah earlier this week and were filled with the same anger and disgust I was. Meghan has been wrongfully vilified by the British Royal Family, press and media for many reasons that are unfair but mostly for being a bi-racial woman. As a mixed-race person who is very white-passing myself, this obviously hits very close to home.
I have always identified as white, and I cannot pretend to know the pain of racial abuse and slurs because I simply don’t but to see two fellow white-passing people like Meghan and Archie subject to racial abuse leads me to question my own place in society. Would someone be racist to me if they knew? I may have not been subjected to bigotry and racism, but it doesn’t mean my life hasn’t been plagued with ignorance and as a result, I am very aware of the underlying racism that the UK would like to pretend simply doesn’t exist.
I’ve witnessed unnecessary racial abuse, my family have had despicable words spray-painted on our home, my mum has experienced unimaginable verbal abuse, I’ve been asked by other children if I’m adopted because my mum is brown, and sometimes I’ve felt like a fly on the wall in conversations with others; a few months ago at work a customer said to me, he’d just tested negative for coronavirus, being nice and polite I went on to say how good this was and was utterly shocked when he replied saying “I don’t think people like us get it anyways, it’s the blacks and mixed-race people that are getting it and spreading it”.
What was I supposed to say to this comment? I didn’t reveal I was mixed race (In retrospect I wish I had), I simply said I didn’t agree. The idea of blackness has so many negative connotations attached, many of which are ludicrous and make no sense. I recently wrote an essay for a university module where I discussed a deeply troubling literary plot line, perpetuated by white men prior to the Harlem Renaissance about ‘passing’. The typical plotline would involve a ‘Mulatto‘ woman compelled to pass as white, her beauty always leads to a young white man falling in love with her and on the verge of their marriage he somehow discovers the truth of her race and the white race is ’saved‘.
Discovering this trope during my research was horrible, it revealed to me the way in which society fetishizes and simultaneously shuns ethnic minorities. While I may not feel connected with my black heritage as it’s not something I can really identify with superficially or culturally (I come from an all-white family apart from my mum), it’s not something I’m ashamed of, in fact, its something I’m proud of and the fact blackness in those who are white-passing is perceived negatively is offensive. Two centuries later Meghan and Archie are still living this reality.
I’ve seen first hand the effects racism has on someone’s mental health. I can’t imagine living in a society where you are subconsciously taught to hate yourself. I’m glad Meghan and Harry spoke up about so many important topics from institutional racism to mental health and having suicidal thoughts. Very brave and inspirational.
We need to listen to Meghan and all members of BAME communities. Believe and validate their experiences; let’s stop denying the UK is racist and recognise that it is, in fact, it’s built on colonialism. We should collectively be trying to bring change. Racism doesn’t care about social class, fame or money as we have so blatantly seen. There’s no place for racism in society, nobody deserves what Meghan Markle has suffered.