A professor of black studies, Kehinde Andrews, has claimed the monarchy will do all it can to ensure Meghan Markle ‘passes for white’ when she marries Prince Harry. According to Andrews, ‘the only way she can be a princess is to downplay her blackness.’ In the same discussion, one of his students agreed: ‘She can’t embody her blackness once she is part of that family’. ‘You ain’t gonna see Meghan at carnival’, she added. Well, they’re both wrong.
Meghan Markle ‘can’t embody her blackness once she’s part of the Royal Family’.
In a series exploring what impact Meghan Markle can have as a royal, Professor Kehinde Andrews warns about ‘post-race’ promises. pic.twitter.com/H8j0n2PNmZ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 16, 2018
As a black person, I find such arguments disturbing. Connecting skin colour to behaviour seems to be the very essence of the racial stereotyping that the left is supposed to fight against. It looks like a contradiction that those who dismiss preconceived stereotypes of black people on one hand then suggest on the other that there are certain behavioural patterns that signal ‘whiteness’ and others that denote ‘blackness’.
Worse, it looks worryingly similar to the claims of those who suggest ‘black culture’ is responsible for high crime rates in America. Of course, when it comes to issues like crime, I am sure Andrews would be quick to dismiss such links as lazy racial stereotyping. He’d be right to do so. So why is Meghan’s skin colour in this instance any more relevant? Whether she is black or white makes no difference at all.
Clearly academics like Andrews expect Markle to disappoint on this front and assume that her entry into the Royal Family will come at a price. Yet it seems to have been forgotten that the purpose of the fight for equality is for people to be allowed to be themselves, and not feel they need to act or think in a certain way, whatever their skin colour. Meghan should be proud of being mixed race. And it’s wrong for the colour of her skin to be used against her.
Remi Adekoya is a freelance journalist and researcher at Sheffield University