Why Barack is black and Megan is biracial

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-07-01 20:07Z by Steven

Why Barack is black and Megan is biracial

Media Diversified
2018-06-28

Olivia Woldemikael, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
Harvard University

Olivia Woldemikael discusses the differences in how Megan Markle and Barack Obama present themselves racially and asks what it means for blackness as an identity

The exclusivity and purity of the racial categories, black and white, is a myth, and a destructive one. Yet, it is continuously perpetuated in national discourse and family conversations. As the personalities of celebrities and politicians continue to be venerated in America, the racial identity of public figures such as Barack Obama and Meghan Markle are important sites for changing our ideas about race.

It’s no surprise to me that Barack Obama was considered America’s first black president and Meghan Markle is considered the biracial princess of England. The two are similarly “light-skinned” in racial parlance. Yet, the manner in which each of them has constructed signifiers of their race explains the difference in public perception. While perception alone does not diminish either’s proximity to whiteness and privilege, which may help explain their success. It does, however, draw attention to the way individuals are able to exercise agency in determining their racial identity, undermining the monolithic American racial ideology. The divergent public personas that Obama and Markle have cultivated demonstrate the fragility of racial categories and hierarchies, as well as highlight the need for a paradigmatic shift in the way we discuss and represent race in the media…

Read the entire article here.

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Steve William’s Column: Invisible blackness, can you see it?

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-05-28 02:33Z by Steven

Steve William’s Column: Invisible blackness, can you see it?

South Strand News
Georgetown, South Carolina
2015-05-25

Steve Williams

Steve Williams (copy)
Steve Williams

Last weekend’s royal wedding in England was a beautiful thing to behold. Many have likened it to Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Social media is abuzz with millions who witnessed it; perhaps because Meghan Markle, who is of mixed racial heritage, didn’t diminish her African heritage rather, she celebrated it. When talking about her mixed heritage, race isn’t something she leads with, but she’s clearly comfortable talking about it. She tells a story of growing up and having her mother pick her up from school; how her friends would often ask — “who’s that black lady? Is she your maid?”

A self-described feminist and egalitarian Meghan has proudly supported many causes for those who are marginalized. Her wedding ceremony spoke volumes for her character. Likewise, kudos must be given to Prince Harry and the royal family for allowing her to express it. Maybe they’re more progressive than I thought…

While more and more celebrities like Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Sade, Drake, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are celebrating their multicultural heritage today, this was not always the case — particularly those black celebrities who could “pass” for white

…Yet, the question of race for many blacks in America was determined by the so-called “One Drop Rule.” The law adopted by most Southern states originated during slavery and reinforced under Jim Crow, said if an individual has one single drop of “black blood” in their ancestry, then that individual is black regardless of his or her appearance.

In the early 1900s, being “black” or “colored” had drastic practical consequences even for whites.

The story is told of John Kirby who was the son of Big John Godbolt. Godbolt was one-eighth African and seven-eighths European. That meant Big John was legally classified as “colored” under South Carolina law. But John Kirby’s mother was white which meant John Kirby and his siblings had less than one-eighth African blood and were legally not “colored.” Instead, having only one-thirty-second African blood they were legally coded as “white.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-21 14:33Z by Steven

Meghan Markle and the Bicultural Blackness of the Royal Wedding

The New York Times
2018-05-20

Salamishah Tillet, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies
University of Pennsylvania


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their wedding ceremony in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.
Pool photo by WPA

“Who are your people?” is the question that repeatedly came to me as I watched Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle’s mother, sitting a few feet away from her daughter at Saturday’s royal wedding. A common expression among southern African-Americans when greeting a stranger, it is never simply a matter of bloodline or individual biography. Rather, responses like “I’m the daughter of so and so” or “My family comes from here by way of there” serves the greater purpose of attesting to one’s place in history and potential bonds of kinship.

Despite Ms. Ragland’s being the sole member of Ms. Markle’s family at the wedding, we still know so little about her. In contrast to the media obsession with Ms. Markle’s father and his children from his first marriage, Ms. Ragland is a bit of a mystery who rarely gives interviews. As a result of her silence, we are left to deduce meaning from her physical image. As she sat across from the British monarchy in her pale green Oscar de la Renta dress and coat, it was the symbolism of her long dreadlocks, quietly tucked underneath her hat, that spoke volumes as it reminded us that black women’s natural hair is regal too.

Among the group of black women with whom I watched the ceremony early Saturday morning in New Jersey, she was a source of pride. Yet out of a sense of sisterly protection, we were also worried about her as she sat there alone, without siblings or friends. The wedding itself helped alleviate our fears, for even if none were not physically present at St. George’s Chapel, the ceremony was filled with gestures, big and small, that explicitly celebrated her “people” and the various black worlds in which she raised Ms. Markle.

But it was “what are you?” — a substantially more alienating question than “who are your people?” — that Meghan Markle recalls hearing almost every day of her life. In a 2015 essay for Elle magazine, she wrote, “I’m an actress, a writer, the Editor-in-Chief of my lifestyle brand The Tig, a pretty good cook and a firm believer in handwritten notes. A mouthful, yes, but one that I feel paints a pretty solid picture of who I am.” But such an answer is insufficient. Ms. Markle went on, “But here’s what happens: they smile and nod politely, maybe even chuckle, before getting to their point, ‘Right, but what are you? Where are your parents from?’ I knew it was coming, I always do.”…

Read the entire article here.

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“You say they’ll be cool with it, but seriously, Harry, you don’t know how white people can get about this stuff.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-05-20 00:44Z by Steven

“You say they’ll be cool with it, but seriously, Harry, you don’t know how white people can get about this stuff. I really don’t want to show up to the royal goddamned wedding and suddenly the Queen, Prince Charles, and Camilla Little-Miss-Perfect Duchess of Cornwall are being all weird! I wonder what could make them act like that, huh? Oh, God—please say your brother Prince William at least knows.” —“Meghan Markle

Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet,” The Onion, May 17, 2018. https://www.theonion.com/furious-meghan-markle-can-t-believe-harry-hasn-t-told-f-1826104835.

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Meghan Markle Can’t Save the World

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United Kingdom on 2018-05-19 23:26Z by Steven

Meghan Markle Can’t Save the World

Jacobin
December 2017

Branko Marcetic, Editorial Assistant
Auckland, New Zealand


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during an official photo call to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017 in London, England. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

A just world would be one without royalty — and celebrity humanitarians.

The British royal family has had a banner decade. Intentionally or not, the latest generation’s charisma, combined with a steady stream of high-profile media events from the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Olympics to William and Kate’s wedding and their first, second, and third kid, has made the royal family more popular than ever, partially suppressing the British public’s rising tide of republican feeling. Prince Harry’s recent engagement to Suits actress and activist Meghan Markle has reinforced this process, foreshadowing a literal marriage of Hollywood glitz and British royalty.

The public has almost universally gushed over Markle since her relationship with and now engagement to Prince Harry was revealed, and it’s not hard to see why. The fact that she’s not only a “commoner” but American — and a person of color at that — signifies the changing face of the British monarchy. But most profiles have zeroed in on Markle’s outspoken feminism, her criticism of the Trump administration, and her humanitarian work for the UN and the charity World Vision. Pundits have also expressed their disappointment that she will have to curb her activist streak upon marrying into the family…

Read the entire article here.

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Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2018-05-19 21:44Z by Steven

Furious Meghan Markle Can’t Believe Harry Hasn’t Told Family She’s Black Yet

The Onion
2018-05-17

LONDON—Reacting with indignation and frustration as her fiancé admitted his continued omission, furious royal bride-to-be Meghan Markle found herself unable to believe Thursday that Prince Harry had not yet informed the royal family that she is, in fact, black. “Jesus, Harry, what the hell? Are you ashamed of me?…

Read (and laugh at) the entire article here.

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Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-19 21:28Z by Steven

Meghan Markle Is ‘Changing Discussions About What It Means to Be Biracial in America’

PEOPLE
2018-05-19

Breanne L. Heldman, Senior Editor


Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Meghan Markle didn’t just become the Duchess of Sussex on Saturday when she married Prince Harry in a gorgeous ceremony at St. George’s Church in Windsor Castle. She also became an important cultural icon of positive change in race relations around the world.

“The U.K. has one of the fastest-growing mixed-race populations in the world,” notes Dr. Sarah E. Gaither, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University who also runs the Duke Identity and Diversity Lab. “To the biracial community, she’s really serving as a symbol of this changing demographic that Britain is facing in addition to the United States.”

“Meghan and Harry’s marriage is really significant because the British monarchy has always been viewed as so, so white,” DaVette See, correspondent for Black Girl Nerds, tells PEOPLE. “Now, they will be seen as more a part of a multicultural world.”.

“Being a biracial American, I didn’t grow up with a lot of biracial exemplars in mainstream media or the books I read,” says Gaither, “so Meghan Markle is really an inspiration for a lot of women of color, a lot of girls of color across the United States in showing that you can help change the historical ties. You can start changing discussions about what it means to be biracial and what it means to be black in America and, now in Britain as well.”…

Read the entire article here.

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On Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Interracial Couples and Their Multiracial Children Will Not Save Us

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-18 18:54Z by Steven

On Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Interracial Couples and Their Multiracial Children Will Not Save Us

Chinyere Osuji
2018-05-18

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Camden)

This weekend, people all around the world will be tuning in to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, an American actress. With a black mother and a white father, Markle identifies as biracial and will be one of the first Americans to marry into the British Royal family. To the chagrin of some, British royal weddings are a big deal in its former colonies, the United States included. But this is a major exception. Black women have been excluded from Western princess imagery until recently with the Disney Princess Tianna, who spent most of the movie as an animal. Yet, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for the first time in living memory, an Afrodescendant woman will be the star who ends the movie as a princess in a real life royal wedding.

Last year was not only the year that Prince Harry proposed to Markle, it also marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision outlawing state anti-miscegenation laws. To celebrate interracial love, The New York Times ran an editorial titled “How Interracial Love Is Saving America” by Sheryll Cashin. The author cited research by the Pew Research Center on how 17% of newlyweds and 20% of cohabiting relationships are either interracial or interethnic, many times higher than in 1967. Cashin saw the enlightened whites who had married across color lines as being at the forefront of a New Reconstruction in the Trump Era. Many people think that as an important symbol of racial harmony, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle will change the world. Like these U.S. newlyweds, their love will be the acid melting the boundaries separating blacks and whites.

Unfortunately, it is not true…

Read the entire article here.

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The making of Meghan Markle

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-05-16 15:26Z by Steven

The making of Meghan Markle

The Washington Post
2018-05-16

Jessica Contrera, Features Writer


Portraits of Meghan Markle from eighth, ninth and 12th grades. From her childhood in Los Angeles to her acting career, Markle has said her “ethnically ambiguous” appearance shaped her identity. (John Dlugolecki/Contact Press Images)

What happens when a ‘confident mixed-race woman’ marries into the royal family

Meghan Markle was glaring at her love interest. She leaned forward, fury clear in her expression as she asked the question: Was it so hard to believe one of her parents was black?

“You think,” she spat, “this is just a year-round tan?”

He stammered. She grimaced. The opening credits began to roll.

It was just the scene of a television show, a few lines from the script of the law drama “Suits.” But Markle would later describe it as something more: the moment she was no longer playing the role of “ethnically ambiguous.” That was the description assigned to so many of the jobs for which she had auditioned. Others asked her to be white, like her father. Or black, like her mother…

Read the entire article here.

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I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2018-05-14 20:24Z by Steven

I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.

Vox
2018-05-14

Sarah E. Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Duke University


Photos: Getty Images. Photo illustration: Christina Animashaun/Vox

Biracial representation is sorely needed in a country with a fraught relationship with mixed-race people.

Growing up in the late ’80s as a biracial girl, I never had a mixed-race princess whose image I could sport on my backpack or my lunchbox. There was little to no representation of my identity — almost no characters in movies or television shows, no musicians or celebrities who identified as mixed-race.

For today’s biracial youth, Meghan Markle, the actress who is marrying into the British royal family — and who has defined herself publicly as “a strong, confident mixed-race woman” — represents the biracial role model I didn’t have growing up.

My mother is white and my father is black, and as a social psychologist, I research mixed-race identity and perceptions of biracial people for a living. The history of biracial couplings and children in our country is fraught: The “one drop” rule that categorized people with any African ancestry as “colored” was legally codified in a couple of states in the early 1900s. Interracial marriage was illegal in some states starting in 1664 until 1967 with the famous Loving v. Virginia case, and it wasn’t until the year 2000 when the option to “check all that may apply” for race appeared on the census…

Read the entire article here.

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