Meghan Markle Pens Brave Essay On Her Experiences Of Racism

meghan markle

by Rebecca Cope |

Ever since Prince Harry’s relationship with new girlfriend Meghan Markle was thrust into the spotlight a few weeks ago, the Suits actress has had to deal with a barrage of abuse, both in the media and online.

In fact, the tone became so vile in places, that the prince saw fit to release an unprecedented statement on the matter, condemning the press for ‘the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments’.

Now Meghan herself has hit back, penning a thoughtful and brave essay for ELLE about her experiences as a mixed race woman.

The piece begins with Meghan explaining her ethnicity, and how it is frequently questioned by people on first meeting her, who want to know ‘what’ she is and ‘where’ her parents are from.

‘To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined,’ she writes. ‘Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area. Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.’

She then goes on to talk about her childhood, when she didn’t know which box to tick on a school form about her ethnicity, and how her father made her a mixed race Barbie doll family after buying a white family and a black family. Experiences of ignorance and racism are also cited; from her dorm mate’s assumption that her parent’s interracial marriage would obviously result in divorce, to her mother being called the ‘N’ word by a driver experiencing road rage. Throughout all of this, she was stifled ‘swallowing’ her voice.

Her career as an actress was equally as frustrating, with her ‘ethnical ambiguity’ meaning that she found it difficult to get work: ‘I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job.’

It wasn’t until her role as ‘dream girl’ Rachel Zane in Suits that she found the kind of character she could actually identify with, and one she hoped might change perceptions.

‘”Dream girl” in Hollywood terms had always been that quintessential blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty – that was the face that launched a thousand ships, not the mixed on,” she explains. ‘But the show's producers weren't looking for someone mixed, nor someone white or black for that matter. They were simply looking for Rachel. In making a choice like that, the Suits producers helped shift the way pop culture defines beauty.’

Despite racist backlash to the show on Twitter – a recent tirade centred around the casting of a black actor as Rachel’s father – Meghan is forging her own path, fighting ignorance.

‘So you make a choice: continue living your life feeling muddled in this abyss of self-misunderstanding, or you find your identity independent of it,’ she writes at the end of her essay. ‘You push for colour-blind casting, you draw your own box. You introduce yourself as who you are, not what colour your parents happen to be.’

Hear, hear!

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