Meghan Markle got engaged to Prince Harry of Britain late last month. Royal engagements are always high-profile gossip fodder, but this one had an extra wrinkle: Markle is biracial, and people are racist. British publications immediately began to sensationalize the fact that Markle is not white as mayonnaise, and racists immediately began to bluster about all the different reasons why she wasn’t a fit bride which definitely had nothing to do with her race.
The response in America has mostly been extremely positive, as black women resorted to #blackgirlmagic to celebrate the marriage scheduled for the coming spring. But it turns out even these joyful responses can be ill-considered, as they can reveal harmful attitudes. Case in point: Good Morning America’s recent article on the subject.
The replies to this tweet should tell you all you need to know about it. Go ahead. Click on the tweet and read them. Take your time.
It shouldn’t surprise you that a lot of people find that headline insulting. It implies that the thing black women are “hoping” for, deep down, is to marry a rich white prince. Specifically, the prince of a country with a rich history of colonialism, racism, oppression and slavery. Good Morning America’s article isn’t particularly interested in historical context here, though, they’re really just after a puff piece about how great this wedding will be.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the article is that it quotes Danielle Belton, the managing editor of The Root, talking about the fantasy of marrying a prince. Her quote in the article is uncomplicated, even sugary, and it sounds like a deliberate misquote given that Belton wrote a much better piece about the royal engagement four days before this one was published.
In her article, Belton quotes a tweet from The New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones, saying “Have black girls around the world been waiting for the moment that their colonizers had someone in the family who looked like them?” Belton’s piece is a much more honest look at the actual response from black women, who are not so desperate and one-dimensional that the only thing they desire is to marry a guy with all the money, prestige and looks of Ed Sheeran.