I see #MeghanMarkle is still trending on Twitter, two weeks after her visit to Britain for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. What a frenzy it caused having a mixed-race woman step back onto British soil after choosing to leave us and our media behind.
I remember the emotional weight of learning Meghan’s story last year. You may remember I touched on it in my post Accepta-black, where I reflected on who is deemed acceptable in British society. It seems the fairer your skin, the closer to received pronunciation your accent, and the less fuss you cause, the closer to “ok” you get as a person who’s not white.
While Meghan is fair skinned and beautiful, it seems she’s neither quiet enough nor grateful enough to be accepted by the British media.
Sadly, if the British media don’t like you, the British public don’t like you. The alarming ways our press supercharge prejudices are depressingly effective, and our critical thinking skills are soon forgotten in the face of divisive narratives and repetitive headlines about “them” versus “us”.
I was on holiday for the Jubilee weekend, but I caught the scent of the British media across the miles.
I raised a toast to welcome Meghan back to my country, in support of her dignified Dior-clad steps back onto our shores. I reflected on the power of our media, and captured some of my thoughts while I sipped fizz in the sunshine.
It’s always made me particularly sad to see the way the British media portray women as enemies. In their stories, women are never friends. They’re bitchy, petty and vengeful. In my experience, women are intelligent, compassionate and supportive. My female family and friends are fiercely protective of each other and love nothing more than seeing each other succeed in the face of adversity. But in the media’s eyes, women have to fit into the cliched and inaccurate definitions of witch or angel.
Why can’t we support both Kate and Meghan?
I’m just going to leave this headlines here, because once you see these, I won’t need to explain how ridiculous it all is.
Beyond mysogyny is the particular brand of prejudice against women, mysogynoir – prejudice of women of colour. Particularly those who are “badly behaved”, who have their own voice and aren’t afraid to use it. In another era, they would have been called “uppity”, followed by a word I won’t commit to paper.
Women of colour who achieve success have stereotypical labels attached to them; aggressive, confrontational, scary, and this doesn’t only play out in the media. Women experience this in the workplace every day. There’s an unconscious bias that women of colour should be grateful to be anywhere, it’s acceptable that they should work twice as hard as others to overcome society’s bias. If they reach a space that’s “above their station”, that’s a problem. And I suspect no-one knows that better than Meghan.
Up Close and Personal
I’m sure anyone working in the anti-racist space can’t help but feel affected by the racism they learn about all the time. Meghan’s treatment has always felt particularly close to home for me.
It’s inevitable that the media permeates the attitudes of people in my own circles – the media is a powerful thing, but it’s infuriating to hear the media tropes being trotted out in my own spaces at times. I pay particular attention to my own responses and behaviour, because of course I’m a woman of colour who’s aware of the labels that can quickly become attached to me.
Rightly or wrongly, I speak my truth through a lens of discomfort and dilution. It’s one of the many reasons I’ll keep blogging. Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! is my vehicle in the ongoing journey towards anti-racism.
So thank you for joining me here.
What do you think of Meghan? I’d love to hear your thoughts. And Meghan – if you’re reading this – I’m sending you a high five!