The Royal Engagement

By Aminat Balogun

It’s the news everyone has been talking about; Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle are engaged! And the best part is, she’s black! Black people everywhere are celebrating this triumph for the people. With that ring on her finger, Markle is achieving the goal none of us really knew we wanted to achieve, but is valued nonetheless. She’s breaking barriers and making history, and we couldn’t be happier! Or at least most of us couldn’t be happier. Among voices of elation, there are always voices of doubt…

“She’s not really black, though…”

“They only like us when we’re light-skinned…”

“If she was really black there’s no way they would be engaged.”

“So what, there’s a ‘black princess’ now.

What’s that got to do with me?”

These are just a few of the negative comments that have been tossed around over the past few days. While most of us are thrilled that a black woman is becoming part of the royal family, there are those that question the significance of this event, especially considering that Markle is a fair skinned black woman who some say, “acts like she’s white”. So should we really be excited that she’s marrying a royal? The short answer is yes. Yes, we should be excited. We should be overjoyed! For the first time in history, a person of color is marrying into the British royal family and this is important! meghan1When people of color rise to positions of notoriety, they become beacons of the culture. This engagement sets a beacon of African-American culture at the forefront of British society, bringing us one step (though it may be a small one) closer to our vision of total racial acceptance.

But the simple existence of a black royal isn’t enough to satisfy this goal. If we have any hope of improving racial equity, we must start by creating a culture of acceptance and love amongst ourselves. That means disregarding our destructive ideas of what it means to “act black”. That means setting aside of our damaging ‘light-skin’ and ‘dark-skin’ dichotomies. That means halting our judgments of one another and simply accepting each other as human beings. I can think of no better way to do this than to accept and support those members of our community who are in the public eye, Meghan Markle included. Not only is she black, she is a feminist and humanitarian who is truly worthy of our support. We should rally around her and help to celebrate her happiness! I was        taught, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Times are changing people. There’s no more space for hate in our community, especially considering the very uncertain times we live in. So, to anyone who feels the need the speak against Meghan Markle, please just stop. It’s unnecessary. Instead of tearing down one of your own, focus on accepting her and celebrating her joy.

What are your thought about Meghan Markle and the royal engagement?