Meghan Markle — see her sparkle. Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle of the USA are married. And millions watched as the couple gazed into each other’s eyes and repeated wedding vows.
Markle is the “first mixed race person in modern history to marry a British senior royal,” declared the Telegraph, a newspaper in Great Britain.
“American princess Meghan Markle is cause for celebration among some in the black and biracial communities, while many rejoice at the most diverse royal wedding in British history,” proclaimed the Daily Mail UK.
The Kingdom Choir, the 20-person, predominantly-black gospel group, sang at the ceremony. Black American preacher Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, delivered a riveting sermon about love. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the ceremony cellist, performed a sensational solo. A black Serena Williams and her white husband Alexis Ohanian, attended the ceremony. Of course, Oprah donned her presence.
“Ms. Markle’s desegregation of the royal family gives us a unique opportunity to examine the contributions and experiences of black people on both sides of the Atlantic,” wrote Salamishah Tillet in an article for The New York Times.
Markle’s biological mother is African American, and her biological father is Caucasian.
Her father, Thomas Markle, and her mother, Doria Ragland, married then divorced when Meghan was young.
In 1967, the famous Loving v. Virginia deemed interracial marriage as legal in the U.S. The recently released film “Loving” is about the couple who inspired the 1967 Supreme Court decision to make interracial marriage a constitutional right.
In 2015, Markle wrote a piece for Elle magazine UK, and she discussed her biracial identity. “To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined. 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.”
Sarah Gaither, a biracial social psychologist, studies mixed-race identity and perceptions of biracial people. Do biracial individuals identify as white or black or both? Gaither writes, “I can’t speak for all biracial people. And I’m not saying that Meghan Markle and Barack Obama and other celebrities should be removed from the black community and added to the biracial community; racial identity is not and should not be a zero-sum game. It is clear that everyone needs positive representation, especially racial and ethnic minorities and women. But the either/or system that so much of our society uses simply doesn’t work when a biracially identified person is involved.”
In the year 2000, the option to “check all that may apply” for race appeared on the census. A victory for mixed-race individuals.
Nickelodeon’s 2017 princess is a biracial, dragon-fighting knight, in the show, Nella the Princess Knight. Nella’s father is black, and her mother is white.
Markle has opened the door wider for discussion of the role of race in society. But will she be the biracial representation? Is she a biracial princess or a princess who just happens to be biracial? It depends. Which comes first? Royalty or ethnicity.
Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, will certainly spark discussion about mixed-race identity and interracial marriage in both America and Great Britain. You go biracial girl of royalty!
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.