It is the wedding of a generation and bride-to-be Meghan Markle has a lot in common with many Black women from our hustle to fighting stereotypes.
1. Salute to Our Mothers
Meghan was born in California to her mom Doria Ragland, who is African American and her dad, Thomas Ragland, who is white. After her parents divorced, she continued to split time between both. In her adult years her mom Doria has been by her side and was at the 2017 Invictus Games where Meghan Markle made her first public-appearance with then-boyfriend Prince Harry. Doria, with her gorgeous locs, is the epitome of a Black mom, supporting her daughter in everything from serving as her Girls Scout troop leader growing up to holding her down as she joins the royal family. She also is like a lot of our moms instilling the importance of education and getting her own graduate degree in social work later in life and now working as a yoga teacher. Namaste.
2. Lean on Your Squad
Our network is not just our net worth, but often lifesavers. And for Meghan, her network was the key to meeting her new husband, as a friend introduced her to Prince Harry. We may not have friends that introduced us to a royal (yet), but cultivating our circle has been essential to the survival of Black women in America.
3. Fight Stereotypes
In a world riff with sexism and racism, it can feel double-edged to be both Black and female. The light complexion of biracial Meghan Markle has not spared her from the Black woman’s experience of fighting stereotypes. Meghan’s mother and her family moved from Ohio to California when Doria was seven. On her now defunct blog The Tig, Meghan shared how her grandfather told her how they had to go to the back of fast food restaurants and eat in their car during the trip. When Meghan was born years later, her mother had to deal with being mistaken for her daughter’s nanny. Now today, more than 30 years later, it didn’t take long for tabloids to tinge their coverage of Meghan with racist subtext. Sensational headlines like “Harry’s Girl Is (Almost) Straight Outta Compton” (online in The Daily Mail) and “Harry’s Girl on Porn Hub” tried to paint Meghan as ghetto and hypersexual, two stereotypes Black women are still fighting today. Her scenes from her starring role on the USA show Suits were even illegally posted to porn sites. And like many of us, these stereotypes had no merit as she grew up in suburbia and attended private school.
4. Leverage Our Skills
It may seem like a fairytale but success required work for Meghan. Black women are America’s most educated and entrepreneurial demographic and that includes Meghan, who earned her degree at Northwestern University as a double major in theater and international relations. She interned at the US embassy in Argentina before returning to California to pursue acting. Her racial ambiguity made it difficult to land roles at first. And like a lot of us, she put her side hustle, calligraphy, to use. She did invitations and cards around Los Angeles, including making wedding invitations for Paula Patton and Robin Thicke.
5. Write Our Own Rules
Now with the wedding here, it hasn’t been an easy week for Meghan. Her father Thomas has been outed for staging paparazzi photos that appeared to show him getting ready for the wedding, and now he may not come to the wedding, saying his ongoing battle with health challenges is the reason. Who hasn’t done a “faux candid” before? The silver lining is Meghan, like many Black women, has constantly given herself permission to create her own version of happy and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her mom Doria help her down the aisle or Meghan own the aisle alone as a powerful woman. While 12, Meghan pushed back on sexist commercials calling cleaning dishes women’s work, and when her first marriage wasn’t working out, she left and hit reset on her romantic life.
Charreah K. Jackson is ESSENCE Senior Lifestyle and Relationships Editor. Follow her on Twitter