Why Black Twitter can't get enough of Britain's next royal

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are not about to unite the world and end racism with their engagement, but it's a much-needed piece of good news

03 December 2017 - 00:00
Meghan Markle's signature is worth more now.
Meghan Markle's signature is worth more now.
Image: Gallo/ Getty

"Long live Meghan Markle." This was a tweet from DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist, massive #BlackLivesMatter supporter, patron saint of wokeness. He's the last person one would expect to tweet favourably about something that involves the British royal family, symbols of imperialism and colonialism that they are.

But, after it was confirmed that the American actress was dating Prince Harry late last year, there was a new interest in the Windsors in some sections of so-called Black Twitter. Why? Because Markle is half-black, the daughter of a dreadlocked yoga instructor. Just like when Barack Obama was elected president of the States, some black people have claimed Markle as one of their own.

Of course there are identity politics around biracial people - what if they don't want to identify as just black, for instance? Surely it's not up to anyone but them to decide who they are? It's a simple concept, but some people follow the one-drop rule - that anyone with even one drop of black blood in them, regardless of their looks, is black.

Back to Meghan. The former Suits actress (she played the most annoying character in a show full of annoying characters) has been subjected to racism and snobbery from some sections of the British press and their readers.

The Daily Mail, bastion of journalistic integrity, ran a story with the headline: "Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed- so will he be dropping by for tea?"

The implication was that Meghan is ghetto and therefore unworthy of the affections of their beloved prince. That she was too black to be a member of the House of Windsor. Which is funny because there were a gang of people who didn't believe Markle playing a biracial character on Suits was realistic because of her fair skin and straightened hair.

After the abuse Markle was subjected to, people who paid no attention to her before were now on her defence force. Many black people know what it's like to experience micro-aggressions and straight-up racism. When the British press started coming for Meghan, it felt like they were coming for us, too.

One of the great things about the internet has been its fostering of communities. The sense of togetherness has been strong for different black communities in particular, and one person's victory can feel like a victory for us all.

Prince Harry and Meghan got engaged.
Prince Harry and Meghan got engaged.
Image: Supplied

When asked on the Emmys red carpet who she hoped would win in some categories, Insecure creator and star Issa Rae said: "I'm rooting for everybody black." That statement upset some people, but black people get it.

In the past three or so years of public wokeness, one of the best things has been black people publicly and unashamedly rooting for one another, wanting to see each other win: awards, medals, grand slams (Serena Williams is president of the Black Excellence Society), promotions ... even princes.

Even though Meghan openly identifies as biracial and some would say she's not black enough, it doesn't really matter much to those who are excited about her impending nuptials.

She's blacker than pretty much every aristocrat in England. Although there's already a black princess in Europe (Princess Angela of Lichtenstein, the wealthiest royal house on the continent) and technically Meghan will be a duchess, her marrying into the most famous royal family on earth is dope.

We love seeing black people - especially black women, colourism politics aside - flourish. Marrying a prince is a form of flourishing: Meghan will be one of the most photographed and famous women in the world, she'll be a style icon and will do high profile humanitarian work.

It's an exciting time and ole Lillibeth was smart to approve these nuptials: it makes the Windsors seem so progressive.

Will Meghan and Harry unite the world and end racism? No. But it's a much-needed piece of good news and escapism in a world filled with economic downgrades, Nazis, state capture, Twitter's 280 characters and Donald Trump.

Here's hoping their kids will have super curly hair.

• I'm not the spokesperson of what black people are thinking or feeling, so don't come for me with that "not all black people" BS: I know.