January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 43°F

ColumnsSeeking Justice

Racism does not exempt royals

The royal family has always been an enigma. Although their lives are rather public, there is also a part of them that those on the outside do not get to see. Many are aware of the scandals that have surrounded the royal family, from the affairs surrounding Prince Charles and Princess Diana to Sarah Ferguson and the toe-licking incident. Now, a scandal likely to make history is one that is deemed the “MEGXIT,” referring to the announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, duke and duchess of Sussex, England, will be leaving the royal family. 

The decision for Harry and Meghan to leave the royal family came as a shock to some. In reality, this exit was bound to happen. From her very first months as a royal, Meghan was subjected to racism from the media. A reporter from The Daily Mail called her “Almost Straight Outta Compton in 2016, and another reporter said she had “exotic DNA.” A BBC reporter even compared Meghan and Harry’s child to a chimpanzee. The racism Meghan faced did not just come from the media but from other royals as well. Princess Michael of Kent wore a racist blackmoor brooch to the queen’s annual Christmas lunch. Yet, people had the audacity to blame Meghan for the couple’s decision to leave the royal family. The larger question is why has no one else in the royal family advocated for Meghan besides her husband? Being a bystander to racism and not addressing it is just as bad as being the perpetrator.

This goes to show that no matter the stature, no one is safe from racism. People of color can devote their life to charity, give to the poor, be kind to everyone and fight for global change, and they will always be scrutinized by what others see on the outside. This scrutiny is never a reflection of them but what others have internalized about them. Even though Meghan could be considered white-passing, she is still subjected to scrutiny by being in a space that others deem appropriate for white individuals only. 

What Meghan has faced exemplifies the intersection between pop culture and politics. The critiques of Meghan have transcended beyond what she wore to her wedding or how she styled her hair to an event. She has become an example of the endless ways in which black people are racialized. For many black girls, representation did not exist in the faces of Disney princesses. Meghan is a reallife example that fairytales can come true. She represented so much more than just a black royal. Just like when President Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States, he showed so many black children that they could dream higher and could truly be their ancestors’ wildest dreams.

Meghan and Harry’s decision to leave the royal family shows that work needs to be done. The biases, salacious headlines and racist remarks should not go unchecked. People must be held accountable for their words and their actions. If a royal like Meghan continues to be subjected to this much racism, imagine what nonfamous, underrepresented groups face every day. 

Many people have become numb to racism’s subtle sting, and they act as if not acknowledging racism will make it go away. Just like a wound that goes untreated, racism has a way of leading to infection. Once the infection spreads, there is no chance of treating the wound. As a society, we can no longer let racism grow and fester. We must treat the wound before it leads to death.

John Turner can be reached at jturner3@ithaca.edu