‘We Are Grateful To Meghan Because Speaking About Racism Knowing You Will Be Met With Disbelief And Hate Is A Trauma In Itself’

Co-founders of Everyday Racism Natalie and Naomi Evans reflect on the racist headlines Meghan Markle faced – and the fallout from her Oprah interview.

Meghan Markle

by Natalie and Naomi Evans |
Updated on

A friend casually asked us if we were watching The Interview last night, as if it were the X-Factor final. Unsure of whether we would, we hesitated before sending a response. We knew watching Meghan recounting her experiences of racism coupled with the responses on social media would be a major trigger for us. We were right.

We are of mixed-race heritage. Our Mum is White British, and our Dad is Black Jamaican who lived both in the UK and the US. Growing up in a white majority area we didn’t see many women who looked like us and whilst, like Meghan, at times having straight hair and light skin made us ‘palatable’ we also experienced racism mainly in the form of what are called microaggressions. Ranging from the loaded: “Where are you really from?” to the disparaging “You’re not Black like that though” with lots of requests to touch our hair littered between. The day we first discovered Meghan was going to marry Prince Harry we - on reflection very naively - felt a sense of hope. There was talk of “modernisation” and “multiculturalism” and there was a seemingly positive response to the idea of her joining the Royal Family. If Meghan could be accepted into the Royal family, then perhaps we were witnessing change in the UK?

It wasn’t long before the headlines started creeping in and we got a taste of what was to come. Headlines like “Harry's Girl Is (almost) Straight Outta Compton”(Daily Mail) and “Meghan Markle left Kate Middleton in Tears” (The Sun) and columns that said: “Obviously 70 years ago Meghan Markle would have been the kind of woman the Prince would have had for a mistress” (The Spectator). This is not what people would call overt racism but coded messages that most Black and Brown women understand: we are difficult, over the top, angry and we should be grateful for any opportunity, any crumb of a chance thrown our way. There are also the added complexities of being light skinned and mixed heritage.

“Colourism is the daughter of racism...in a world that rewards light skin over darker skin” - Lupita Nyong’o

While colourism is what enabled Meghan into the royal family, it was racism that drove her out. Being mixed heritage, often means that we have to occupy the space in between. White people will never see you as white but that doesn’t mean you suddenly become monoracial.

We were not shocked by anything that was said. The experience that Meghan described is all too familiar for Black and Brown people living in a white supremacist society. This isn’t simply about the Royal family, it’s about how Black and Brown people are treated at work, at their social clubs, in schools and when you are mixed race or in an interracial relationship it can even be within your own family. The impact of racism has serious consequences. It’s a trauma that lives within you and can affect your physical and mental health.

The most worrying and dangerous part is continuing to see white people being given a platform to gaslight Black and Brown people who are talking about racism and suicide. Piers Morgan stormed off the GMB setwhen colleague Alex Beresford dared to challenge him. Charlene White was framed as the angry Black woman after she challenged Jane Moore’s“casual racism” comment.

We are grateful to Meghan for being brave enough to speak out because speaking about racism knowing you will be met with disbelief and hate is a trauma in itself. Frankly until people in the UK progress from debating racism and start being honest about our colonial past and the role we have played in maintaining it, the conversation won’t move on.

Natalie and Naomi Evans are the co-founders of the platformEverydayRacism.

READ MORE: Why Are People Still Denying The Endemic Racism In The UK?

READ MORE: 'Like Harry And Meghan, We've Endured Comments About Our Future Mixed-Race Children - The Effects Are As Painful As They Sound'

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