Meg & Her Momma: Ain’t Nothing Black & White

I binge-watched the Meghan Markle / Prince Harry documentary yesterday.  There could easily be an entire year’s worth of DEI class content based solely on the issues that surfaced in this documentary.


One of the most controversial issues stems from Markle’s confession that until she and Harry’s relationship became public, she wasn’t treated like a Black woman until she went to the UK where it was made an “issue.”  I applaud her courageousness to speak her truth and am equally

shocked at people’s angry reactions to her revelation.


Black people are not monolithic. We know this; so why do we oftentimes criticize our sisters and brothers when they share a part of their Black experience that is different from our own?  Some of us – perhaps most of us – due to our families, schools, or neighborhoods, became aware of our blackness and what it meant very early in our lives.  But that “Black Wake-up Moment” does occur at different times, and in different ways, for different people.


We must remember that racism can present politely; and some targets may not even pick up on the racist nuances, particularly when they are young.  A child may notice that her teacher didn’t allow her to speak when she raised her hand or that she’s never picked to be the line leader. These are slights that we oftentimes better recognize later once we are aware of our blackness and what it means in this world (hence the word, “woke”).  Accordingly, it’s certainly not beyond possibility that a young girl in certain environments might not have reached that level of awareness.


Let’s also consider that preteens and teenagers are so desperate to fit-in with their peers that they will stuff a square inside of a circle and really convince themselves that it fits. I have witnessed many adults who did not realize or rather did not accept the abuse they got when they were growing up from white people until they were much older. Facing the truth was too hard then. We’ve all denied certain circumstances in our lives to simply survive them.


Moreover, parents don’t want their children to merely survive; they want our childhood to be perfect. That’s why I find it odd that some people have blamed Meghan Markle’s mother for failing to educate her about what it means to function as a Black person in this world. Markle’s mother married a white man which suggests that she may not have been more immune to the intricacies of race in America or that she may have had hopes for what race in America did or didn’t have to be.


But secondly as a mother who spent a lot of time and energy talking to her children about who they were from the minute they came out of my womb (as I put baby lotion on my children’s skin, I’d talk to them about their beautiful brown skin from birth and consistently talked to them about their Blackness). But I will say that there were many instances when I wondered if I was doing the right thing because there are a lot of truths about being black that are difficult to tell your babies. For instance, one time, my sons and I  were walking through the mall and my son kept taking his sweatshirt  off and on. When it was off he would put it in the bag of purchases we had bought. After he did this several times, I snapped at him in the middle of Macy’s: “Keep the sweatshirt on your body or in the bag. These folks will think that you – a Black boy – stole it when they see you stuffing it the bag. His face fell.  He quickly went from a happy kid who was tossing around his sweatshirt to a possible suspect. I still cringe when I think about it.


We, parents, push Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny; throw fantastical birthday parties and do our best to provide an “idyllic” childhood for our children.  We want to create magic for them.  So, talking about the realities of being black is tough and I can understand why any mother would be resistant to do so. Let’s not act like many parents don’t similarly avoid conversations about sex, drugs and other challenging issues.


We can make different choices from others and still understand (even respect) the choices that they made.  Their story may not be our story. We may even disagree with it, but it’s still their story — and that should be enough.


One Response

  1. First of all a king never leaves his castle, confusion and chaos comes in many different ways and so does distractions! It would’ve been smart, to take your riches and be patient. You should not have to keep writing controversial stories because your money is gone. They are two sides to every story and I do not believe everything she says!

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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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